The South Goa Action Forum or SGAF – a newly formed umbrella association of small businesses, tourist agencies, taxi operators, small hotels, motels and restaurants in Colva, Varca, Betul, Canacona, Palolem and the entire coastal stretch of South Goa today formally announced its anti-Mopa awareness campaign. The SGAF and its members have vowed to fight against the Mopa Airport project tooth and nail.
Speaking to media persons on Friday, Wilfred Fernandes, President of SGAF said, “We will fight tooth and nail. We will take our fight out on the streets, in the courts and in the Goa State Assembly. We will take our fight against Mopa to Delhi. Any politician who supports Mopa is unwelcome in South Goa. Goa does not need a Mopa or for that matter another airport for the next 10-15 years. The same funds could be used to create opportunities for employment in the poor stretches of Goa. It is unlikely that mining will resume in Goa for at least one more season. The Government is well aware that people are starving and unemployment is at an all time low in the state. Goa tops the list of states with the lowest employment index. It is a shame that the Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar is rooting for Mopa with all his might and fast tracking the process. Several reports have pointed out that Mopa is not viable for Goa for another 15 years and if Mopa comes up within 3-5 years the airport at Dabolim will be defunct and die a natural death.
Tourism in south Goa has been at an all time low this year. It is the worst year for businesses when one compares figures of the last ten years. Every shack and restaurant owner in south Goa will agree to this fact and is reeling from the increasing cost of raw materials. In spite of this glaring fact, the government is going out of its way to promote Mopa and we will not allow this. Politicians from both major parties in Goa – the BJP and the Congress have invested heavily in land and real estate around Mopa and the Government is merely trying to fill the coffers of these speculators who will be able to resell the property at much higher rates or develop the plots into huge residential complexes or hotels.
The SGAF will publish 20,000 copies of a booklet titled What Mopa means to South Goa? for free distribution to all restaurants, travel agencies, and establishments in south Goa as part of its anti-Mopa campaign. It also intends to hold public meetings every Sunday in different parts of south Goa to create awareness about the ills and hardships of Mopa for the people of south Goa. An opinion poll or a referendum will also be conducted in April, said Fernandes to ascertain the views of the local populace on the subject.