Friday, December 04, 2020

At public hearing, no protest to airport terminal expansion

Panaji: In a rare departure for Goa, nobody objected to the Airports Authority of India’s plans to expand the terminal building during the environmental public hearing conducted by the Goa State Pollution Control Board.

Unlike earlier public hearings, which are often a passionate affair in Goa, Just six people registered to express their views on the Rs 131 crore terminal expansion. Of these, just two showed up in person, while two attended virtually.

“All the proceedings of the public hearing have been recorded and they will be submitted to an expert appraisal committee,” South Goa collector Ajit Roy said. “That committee will examine everything and they will submit their recommendations to the government and then the final decision will be taken.”

Goans For Dabolim (GFDO) convenor Fr Eremito Rebello was the first to speak and he supported AAI’s decision to expand the airport. “This project is not going to cause any environmental damage,” Rebello said. The priest did voice a concern about the possibility of the airport being handed over to a private company in the future. “My only fear is that after expansion, AAI will hand it over to a private player or an industrialist. The airport should remain in the hands of the government,” Rebello said.

Vasco-resident Savio Correia was the next to speak and he too supported the project. “For the first time a non-polluting project is being proposed in Goa. It will boost the economy,” he said.

What Correia did have a problem with was the way the public hearing was conducted. Correia, however, identified discrepancies in the Environmental Impact Assessment report, particularly the water requirement for the terminal building. He also said that for a terminal that is designed to cater to 11.2 million passengers in a year, there should be at least 3,000 parking slots for cars and 100 parking slots for buses.

4/12/20 Times of India

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