IRB website says: concession period-95 years, estimated project cost (incl. land cost) as per IRB-Rs 175 crore, land cost premium-Rs 7,96,000/hectare, airport area-670 acres, runway length -3,170m, upfront land premium to be paid to MIDC- Rs 20.70 crore, airport development period-18 months, operations & maintenance-93.5 years.

Mayday, Mayday, Mayday  -1

Lionel Messias  

Sometime ago, the Government of Maharashtra had cleared a Rs 5,232 crore package for the development of the Konkan region.  The package included Rs 60 crore for the development of ports, Rs 149 crore for roads and bridges, Rs 67 crore for coastal highways, Rs 300 crore to develop infrastructure in each tehsil and Rs 50 crore for fruit processing among others.  Schemes worth Rs 3,915 crore were to be implemented in three years under the package, while the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority was entrusted with the task of implementing projects worth Rs 1,317 crore in one year.  A Greenfield airport at Chipi-Parule in Sindhudurg on 271 hectares was also cleared.  The construction is scheduled to be completed within 18 months.  The schemes appeared to have been thoughtfully planned keeping in mind votebank politics of Maharashtra’s crucial Konkan region, especially the vital Sindhudurg and Ratnagiri districts.  (Rs 1 crore=1,00,00,000).

Conspiracy theorists in Goa claim that Goa's planned Mopa airport being so close to the southern tip of Maharashtra will be of more help to that State, notwithstanding the civil aviation ministry's directions that there can be no two Greenfield projects within a radius of 150 km. But despite this festering grudge, the plain fact is Maharashtra is moving forward rapidly with its Chipi-Parule airport than successive Goa governments have ever since Mopa was first mooted.  What's more, Nirmalkumar Deshmukh, the joint chief officer of the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation, has gone on record to say, "After the construction of the Chipi airport, the Goa government will not be able to construct an airport at Mopa since it is within the 150 km radius."

The Chipi-Parule site is 80 km (1 kilometre=0.621371192 miles) from Mopa, 110 km from Panaji and 142 km from Goa's existing airport at Dabolim.  A new airport was not allowed at Amravati as it would be within a radius of 150 km from Nagpur airport.  The civil aviation ministry has made only two exceptions  for the Navi Mumbai international airport and an airport near Noida (New Okhla Industrial Development Authority) in Uttar Pradesh.  Maharashtra feels that an airport in Sindhudurg district will boost tourism in the area and will also cater to North Goa areas closer to Maharashtra.  IRB Infrastructure Developers chairman and managing director Virendra Mhaiskar has also said: "We plan to construct a class-C runway of 2,600 metres which can accommodate A-320 s or 737s.  We feel it will be a profitable proposition and we will be able to pull at least 20 per cent of Goa's traffic." Tourism there in fact did get a shot in the arm in October 2011 when the State announced that India's first ever aquarium-based theme park would be built in Sindhudurg district, with its own dolphin stadium, theme restaurants, water sports facilities, and underwater studio.

The obsession with certain Maharashtra ministers to build airports in their backyards was the reason for the 1973-built Jalgaon (Jalgaon district, north of Sindhudurg district) airport to be upgraded by the Airports Authority of India (AAI). The Rs 61 crore phase 1 including an apron and taxiway was completed in February 2012.  Jalgaon airport, 181 km from Chipi, is spread over 630 acres and has one runway 1,700 metres in length and its new apron measures 68 metres by 67 metres providing parking space for 2 ATR aircraft at a time. It has a 700 sq mt terminal building. Maharashtra has the wherewithal (literally on all parameters) and the pace to complete the Chipi airport project and then to take it to the next level; before the Goa government can even put together Mopa's structural plans, leave aside the many environmental and official approvals.  So, why bother with Mopa at all despite even the doubting Thomases among the very experts that were paid big money to give their opinions.

Chipi's Progress Card

The IRB Infrastructure Developers website shows these specifics: Concession period-95 years, estimated project cost (as per MIDC)-Rs 115 crore, estimated project cost (incl. land cost) as per IRB-Rs 175 crore, land cost premium-Rs 7,96,000/hectare, airport area-670 acres, length of runway-3,170m, upfront Land premium to be paid to MIDC- Rs 20.70 crore, airport development period from effective date (to make operational)-18 months, operations & maintenance-93 years & 6 months, current status-under pre-construction stage.  The site says IRB completed the topographic and obstacle survey, runway orientation and that the aerodrome reference point was defined.  The MoEF (Ministry of Environment & Forests) clearance for the project has been received.  The CRZ verification study completed by NIO (National Institute of Oceanography, Goa) and the site is clear from the CRZ area.  The techno economic feasibility report and master plan has been submitted to DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation).

Blind landing in Mopa

While the rich and mighty continued to buy out (see tables below) Mopa, literally it has been a classic case of obfuscation from the time Goa's politicians first landed on the idea.  The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) which sent its experts (July 9-16, 2007) to study, at the request of the Goa government, the feasibility of simultaneous operations at Dabolim and Mopa; said:  the relatively small amount of airport traffic in Goa does not provide a strong argument for splitting traffic between Dabolim and Mopa.  Splitting traffic between Dabolim and the new airport would impact the commercial and financial viability of both airports if a succinct and comprehensive strategy is not developed prior to the implementation of the dual airport system.

Prior to that a techno-economic feasibility study commissioned in 2005 by Aeroport de Paris International (ADPi) and STUP consultants (under sub-contract arrangement with ICAO) and which proposed the first phase development by 2014 of a new airport in Mopa; concluded that "the cash flow generated by the project is not sufficient to cover the capital expenditure program for a 100 per cent private investment and that a new airport in Mopa would not be financially viable under a scenario of total private ownership, even in the situation where all the commercial traffic from Dabolim would be transferred to the new Mopa airport."  It was like successive Congress governments would continue to finance fresh studies just to keep the Mopa idea alive and kicking.  This shrewdly picked fly-by-wire mode, so to speak, simultaneously helped to keep the countless Mopa protagonists at bay and guessing, as it conveyed the feeling that the feasibility of Mopa was in truth being looked into by the experts.

The ICAO also concluded that "a dual system is a second best solution only, compared to a single airport system to serve a relatively small air transportation market such as Goa's market.  It is however noted that there may be reasons, economic, political and/or social that may call for the need to operate both airports." The truth, was out, finally. The ICAO which had said "a single airport is the most efficient solution for Goa" said in the same breath, "At the same time, Goa is therefore encouraged to proceed immediately with the implementation of its long term vision for the construction of a new airport at Mopa that would be entirely dedicated to commercial operations."

The Mopa Consultants

(1) The latest is Louis Berger Consulting Pvt. Ltd, India: Consultancy services for preparation of master plan, preliminary project report, tender document and project management services for the proposed Greenfield airport and commercial/industrial and allied development near Mopa. (2) Prior to that The International Civil Aviation Organisation was paid $ 516,000 (nearly Rs 2,30,000 then) in February 2004 for "Management Consultancy Services (preparation of Techno Economic Feasibility Report)".  (3) An amount of Rs 4,31,984 was paid to L&T Ramboll, Hyderabad as part payment for an Environmental Impact Assessment Study.  Also, an amount of Rs 14,28,054 was incurred to advertise the land acquisition and Rs 1,71,110 spent on survey and enumeration work.

The Mop up of Mopa

(Note: The name spellings are as they appeared in the original RTI)

September 6, 1993 (no purchase cost mentioned)  Laxmikant Yeshvant Parsekar, Parsekarwada; March 7, 1996 - Ganpat S Parshenkar, Arambol (cost of land purchased-Rs 2,06,000); March 7, 1996   Laxmikant E Parshenkar, Arambol, Linc Pens & Plastics Ltd (cost of land purchased-Rs 1,40,000); May 16, 1996  Shankar J Parshenkar, Arambol-(Rs 2,94,000); May 16, 1996   Laxmikant E Parshenkar, Arambol-(Rs 4,08,000); February 13, 2002  Ajay Vasant Pansekar-(Rs 9,50,000); November 21, 2003   Laxamikant Parsekar, Goa Kapila Milk Dairy & Products-(Rs 72,000); December 16, 2003  Laxamikant Parsekar, Goa Kapila Milk Dairy & Products-(Rs 1,27,000). Total spend: Rs 21,97,000 (does not include the September 6, 1993 sale).

April 5, 2007  Wilson Godinho, Wides Property Holding-(cost of land purchased-Rs 1,80,00,000); April 12, 2007  Wilson Godinho, Wides Property Holding, Panjim-(Rs 65,30,000); April 13, 2007 - Wilson Godinho, Wides Property Holding, Panjim-(Rs 15,00,000); April 13, 2007   Wilson Godinho, Wides Property Holding-(Rs 45,30,000); April 23, 2007  Wilson Godinho, Wides Property Holding, Panjim-(Rs 23,31,000); April 23, 2007   Wilson Godinho, Wides Property Holding, Panjim-(Rs 39,97,000); April 23, 2007  Wilson Godinho, Wides Property Holding, Panjim-(Rs 28,38,000); June 11, 2007  Wilson Godinho, Wides Property Holding, Panjim-(Rs 28,38,000); June 26, 2007  Wilson Godinho, Caranzalem-(Rs 1,66,00,000); July 18, 2007  Wilson Godinho, Caranzalem (Rs 13,00,000); September 14, 2007 - Wilson Godinho, Caranzalem (Rs 26,33,000); September 14, 2007, Wilson Godinho, Caranzalem (Rs 13,24,000); September 26, 2007, Wilson Godinho, Caranzalem (Rs 68,14,300); October 11, 2007, Wilson Godinho, Caranzalem (Rs 75,70,000); October 11, 2007, Wilson Godinho, Caranzalem (Rs 58,75,000); October 24, 2007, Wilson Godinho, Caranzalem (Rs 20,75,000); October 24, 2007, Wilson Godinho, Caranzalem (Rs 18,18,000); November 5, 2007, Wilson Godinho, Caranzalem (Rs 93,58,000); November 5, 2007, Wilson Godinho, Caranzalem (Rs 2,50,00,000); November 5, 2007, Wilson Godinho, Caranzalem, (Rs 11,98,000); November 28, 2007, R A James Duderson, JM Township Real Estate (Rs 21,81,000); February 27, 2008, Wilson Godinho (Rs 70,80,000); March 25, 2008, Wilson Godinho, Caranzalem (Rs 70,00,000); March 28, 2008, Wilson Godinho, Caranzalem (Rs 53,80,000); March 28, 2008, Wilson Godinho, Caranzalem (Rs 10,30,000); June 25, 2008, Wilson Godinho (Rs 15,00,000); July 4, 008, Wilson Godinho, Caranzalem (Rs 5,87,000); July 11, 2008, Wilson Godinho, Caranzalem (Rs 99,00,000); August 4, 2008, JM Township & Real Estate, Wilson Godinho, Panjim (Rs 1,48,94,300); August 4, 2008, JM Township & Real Estate, Wilson Godinho, Panjim (no purchase price mentioned); September 19, 2008, Wilson Godinho (Rs 4,67,920). Total spend: Rs 17,41,49,520 (does not include the August 4, 2008 sale). Incidentally, Wilson Godinho is the brother of Mauvin Godihi, the current Dabolim Congress MLA and former minister since 1990.

December 20, 1995  Tulshidas Mahadev Shirodkar, Hotel Satya Heera (Rs 1,81,000 & Rs 4,15,000).  He also made a third land purchase but the RTI did not mention the amount.

April 2, 1996  Surajunal Jalan, Kolkatta, Linc Pens & Plastics Ltd (Rs 6,28,500). By strange coincidence the RTI also mentions Linc Pens & Plastics Ltd (whose MD is a Deepak Jalan) against the March 7, 1996 land purchase by Laxmikant Parsekar (the current BJP Minister for Health, Panchayati and Rural Development).  Also, RTI notorious for its spelling errors could have mis-spelt Surajunal.  In that even please ignore this twist of fate that in the mid 70s, Linc Group was founded by a Surajmal Jalan, the firms present chairman or the prospect that it has a production facility in Pilerne and an office on  DB Marg, Miramar, Panjim.  April 12, 1996  Surajunal Jalan, Kolkatta (Rs 7,80,000).

April 24, 1997  Nioel Jacob, Vishwas Steel, Mumbai (Rs 12,68,750).  But a Noel Jacob did resign as a director in from the firm's board in 1999-2000 and Vishwas Steels Limited has/had an administrative office at Shiv Towers, Patto Plaza, Panjim and a production unit at Dhargal in Pernem taluka.

July 16, 2001  SS Nagi, India Corporation Ltd., Vasco (Rs 60,06,600)

March 26, 2003, Photis Kally, Jivana Health Resorts (Rs 3,18,000).  In 2006, it was reported in the local dailies that Britisher, Photis Kally, Jivana Health Resorts Pvt Ltd was learnt to have purchased 3,000 sq mt land, the mutation for which was completed in 2004.

April 23, 2003   Sukhdev Singh (PIO), Candolim (Rs 11,81,000)

May 23, 2003   Vishwanath Naik, Mumbai (Rs 13,16,000)

August 26, 2003, Rahul Bansal, Country Wide Project (Rs 9,90,000)

September 9, 2003, Catherine Serna, Mapusa (Rs 17,45,000)

September 20, 2004, Sachin V Naik, Director, Riva Resorts (Rs 32,00,000).  In June 2012 the Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority (GCZMA) issued an order to demolish alleged illegal structures of Riva Resort at Mandrem. This is the order: "The GCZMA hereby directs Sachin V Naik, director of Riva Resorts, Mandrem to demolish the seven structures and ground plus one structure on the site and restore the land to its original condition within 20 days from the date of receipt of this order failing which the GCZMA will issue directions to the appropriate authority to demolish the same without any further notice and recover the costs towards the demolition from the alleged violators".  Naik is a resident of A/306, Radha Krishna Apartment, S.V. Road, Dahisar (East) Mumbai.  Ironically, that same year Laxmikant Parsekar, then an Opposition BJP MLA raised the issue of the illegal constructions in the Goa Assembly.  Parsekar was also a serial-asker of Assembly questions on the progress of the Mopa airport.  You wonder why?

March 14, 2007, Sydnes A D Souza, Maloga Realtors, Vasco (Rs 2,00,00,000)

April 10, 2007, Shivsaran Bagga, Delhi (Rs 1,16,00,000)

April 12, 2007, Agnelo M Braganza, Riveira Constructions, Mapusa (Rs 98,00,000)

May 3, 2007, Siddharth G Rataboli, Porvorim (Rs 24,00,000)

May 7, 2007, Harkaran Singh Toor, Panjim (Rs 17,40,000)

May 18, 2007, Dr. Rakesh Sahni, Delhi (Rs 1,68,00,000)

May 29, 2007, Stavam J. Tekrawala, Fantasy Spirits, Tivim (Rs 2,56,000). A Google search revealed the name as Stavan Tekrawala and the company as Fantasy Spirit Pvt Ltd., located in the Tivim Industrial Estate, Pernem taluka.

May 11, 2007, Joseph J Cardozo, Panjim (Rs 25,00,000); June 8, 2007, Joseph J Cardozo, Bayside Reality Pvt. Ltd., Mumbai (Rs 59,85,300); July 16, 2007, Josheph Jhon Cardoz, Calagute (Bayside Reality Ptv. Ltd), (Rs 1,26,00,000); August 20, 2007, Joseph J Cardozo, Calangute (Rs 10,00,000); August 29, 2007, Joseph John Cardozo, Bayside R. P. Ltd (Rs 19,95,000); October 30, 2008, Joseph J. Cardozo, Calangute (Rs 16,17,000).  Total spend: Rs 2,56,97,300.

July 16, 2007, Yazdi Dessai (R N Writer), Byculla, Mumbai (Rs 1,26,00,00); September 12, 2007, Yazdi Dessai (R N Writer), Byculla, Mumbai (Rs 1,42,74,326); September 13, 2007, Yazdi Dessai (R N Writer), Byculla, Mumbai (Rs 1,42,74,326)

September 28, 2007, Boutique Resorts (on behalf of Daniel Moses), Panjim (Rs 70,00,000)

October 25, Sandip Ganguli (Leading Hotels Pvt. Ltd.), (Rs 2,25,08,550); November 14, 2007, Sandip Ganguli (Leading Hotels Pvt. Ltd), (Rs 2,15,40,850); February 26, 2008, Leading Hotels, Sandeep Ganguli, Delhi (Rs 1,10,00,000); June 12, 2008, Sandeep Ganguli, Delhi (Rs 23,00,000); August 12, 2008, Sandeep Ganguli, Delhi (Rs 23,00,00,000). Total spend: Rs 28,73,49,400.

November 27, 2007, Vithu V Kole, Morjim (Rs 14,00,000)

December 13, 2007, Pritz D Silva, Mumbai (Rs 57,50,000)

December 14, 2007, Vipin Kumar, Mumbai (Rs 60,00,000)

January 11, 2008, Guneor Singh Maun, Punjab (Rs 1,00,00,000)

January 31, 2008, Kavishakar Rudrapa, Vasco (Rs 6,50,000)

February 13, 2008, Alpesh Dessai (36,60,000 & Rs 3,43,00,000)

April 8, 2008, Praveen Kumar, Delhi (Rs 28,00,000)

April 8, 2008, Vilas Gangan, Mumbai (Rs 2,90,00,000, Rs 79,00,000, Rs 12,60,000), May 9, 2008 Gangan Vilas (Rs 1,59,00,000)

April 9, 2008, Anil H Laad, Panjim (Rs 1,30,00,000)

June 6, 2008, Peter Vaz, Caranzalem (Rs 16,60,000, Rs 16,20,000)

June 12, 2008, Shantilal Patel, Siolim (Rs 5,00,000, Rs 15,00,000)

June 17, 2008, Titanic Resorts (Rs 6,40,000, Rs 1,00,00,000). Possibly located in Morjim.

June 19, 2008, Pramod Jolly, Morjim (Rs 8,90,00,000). In June 2006 local dailies reported that a Pramod Jolly of Austria was learnt to have purchased more than 1000 sq mt of land in Morjim. An application to buy another 600 sq mtm2 was pending before the Pernem Mamlatdar.

June 26, 2008, Babami Palyekar, Morjim (Rs 63,70,00,000)

July 7, 2008, Vinay Kumar Agarmol, Delhi (Rs 4,50,00,000 & Rs 2,25,00,000). (More likely this is Vinay Kumar Agarwal).

July 10, 2008, Kapal Sahani, Delhi (Rs 14,00,000 & Rs 7,26,000)

August 5, 2008, Naresh Kumar Ruin, Delhi (Rs 11,25,000)

August 5, 2008, Manesh Omprakash Kukreja, Bandra, Mumbai (Rs 4,17,89,700)

September 23, 2009: History was perhaps created in this area when on a single day a Alphas Dessai, Munasi Resort Management, Atlanta Building, Miramar Point, Mumbai purchased land through ten sale deeds as follows; Rs 77,15,280, Rs 25,07,280, Rs 66,90,730, Rs 30,92,560, Rs 17,89,010, Rs 25,07,590, Rs 78,24,090, Rs 36,99,230, Rs 30,18,780, Rs 30,41,410. Total spend: Rs 3,81,86,730.

P. S: GS has deliberately retained the original spellings so you can decide whether the mis-spelt names as in the case of Laxmikant Parsekar and others were intentional or otherwise.

What's Against the Project:

The degradation of thickly vegetated land in Pernem between April 2006- June 2008 when especially non-resident builders began buying huge tracts of land. The major case examples of this are the 8,16,000 sq mt bought by Mangala Realtors Pvt. Ltd., Vasco in Alorna; 4,61,000 sq mt by JM Township & Real Estate (owned by Wilson Godinho); 4,38,000 sq mt by Christian Farm Land (India) Pvt. Ltd., Bangalore; 3,05,000 sq mt by NE Electronics Ltd., Guwahati, Assam; 2,50,000 sq mt by Leading Hotels Pvt. Ltd., Delhi (the Sandeep Ganguli owned firm that between November 2007-August 2008 bought land worth Rs 28,73,49,400 in Mopa); 2,57,000 sq mt by Wides Properties, Panjim (owned by Wilson Godinho and buyer of land worth Rs 28,73,49,400 in Mopa); 2,44,000 sq mt by Beside Realty Pvt. Ltd, Mumbai (this could also be the same Bayside Reality that bought Rs 2,56,97,300 worth of land in Mopa); 2,27,000 sq mt and 2,13,000 sq mt by Enterprises Value Investment (India) Pvt. Ltd., Mumbai; 25,587 sq mt by Amrapali Realtor, Delhi; 15,980 sq mt by Padmashil Fine West Pvt. Ltd, Parel, Mumbai; 1,08,842 sq mt by Rajan Hatiskar, Thane, Mumbai; 1,10,000 sq mt by Pushpalata Samant, Dadar, Mumbai; and 1,16,000 sq mt by Prasanna Developers.