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Goa's contentious second airport sees fresh protests. Here's why | Hindustan Times

bhangad12

7 day(s) ago in category Miscellaneous

www.hindustantimes.com

Goa’s second International Airport has had a contentious history.

Farmers in Goa’s northernmost taluka of Pernem have risen against losing their lands this time for a road connecting the upcoming International airport at Mopa to the national highway. This could be the latest chapter in a protracted struggle the farmers have raged against the acquisition of their lands - first for the airport and now for the connecting road.

On Friday, some 200-odd farmers were bundled into police buses and placed under arrest after they blocked the path of government surveyors who were on their way to demarcate the land for a brand new approach road. The protesters refused to budge and not to part with even an inch more of the land that they say has sustained them.

“The chief minister is saying that he is trying to make us understand. They are saying we should understand? What should we understand? We have even given them an alternative alignment that will involve less land. More than 500 farmers are going to lose their homes for the road,” Prashant Shirodkar, a land-losing farmer, said.

“If the CM really wants to understand us then he should come and have a look at our fields and cashews. Villagers from this area have already sacrificed land for the Tillari canal, the Sports City, Ayush Hospital, Ravindra Bhavan, and now they say they are bringing casinos too,” Shirodkar added.

Goa’s second International Airport, which is being built in the state’s northern corner and covering nearly 100-lakh square metres of land that once comprised villages of Mopa, Uguem, Dhadachivada, Poroscodem and Dhargal, has had a contentious history. First proposed in the late 90s, the project ran into opposition from politicians, hoteliers and taxi operators from South Goa who opposed the airport saying it was too far North and going ahead with the project would harm the development of South Goa.

The land acquisition procedure that had nearly lapsed was taken forward only in 2012 after the BJP government came to power and after written assurances from the central government that the existing Dabolim airport, which doubles up as a Naval base, will continue to operate as a civilian airport even after the new airport is inaugurated.

But the land losing farmers were not convinced. Within a radius of ten kilometres, farmers in the once rural Pernem taluka have had to part with 9-lakh square metre of land, mainly comprising cashew, mango and other fruit orchards, for a Sports City for which land was acquired but never materialised, the tiller irrigation canal that is lying in a state of disrepair and other projects like an Ayush Hospital, an auditorium, etc.

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“How much more land should we part with? Is it always us who have to pay the price of development? Is there no other area that you can choose to ‘develop’? Let other parts of Goa also see the benefits of ‘development’. It’s not like we are the only farmers,” Bharat Bagkar, who had led the villagers collective to oppose the acquisition, said.

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