New Delhi: Goa’s government is preparing to hire a consultant to advise it on a proposed new airport for the state even as the civil aviation ministry drafts a note for the Union cabinet to allow the Dabolim airport to coexist with the new facility.
A senior Goa government official said it would speed up the project, for which nearly 30,000 sq. m of land is already in the process of being acquired. The government plans to acquire 50,000 sq. m more by June.
“By first week of May, we will float a tender to appoint a consultant for conducting a detailed project report,” said the official, who asked not to be named. “After this, we will get a sense of the feel of the market, who all are interested?”
Some $10 billion (around Rs44,500 crore today) has been spent in the last five years on airport modernization in India, according to the Centre For Asia Pacific Aviation (Capa), and a further $20 billion of investment is expected in the following 10 years. “The Greenfield airport projects most likely to progress to the tender stage in the near future are Navi Mumbai and Mopa in Goa, with Request for Proposal documents expected to be issued in the first half of 2010,” Capa said in its outlook report for the current year.
The Dabolim airport is in southern Goa, close to the state capital Panaji and run by the Indian Navy. The proposed new airport, sanctioned by the Union cabinet in March 2000, is to come up in the extreme north of the state.
The civil aviation ministry’s suggestion to keep the Dabolim airport running, if approved by the cabinet, will reverse a decision mandating that an old airport be closed once a new one becomes operational—a practice followed in Bangalore and Hyderabad.
Because of local opposition to the closure of the old airport, said a civil aviation ministry official who did not want to be named, the ministry is now seeking a review of the decision by the Union cabinet so that the two airports can coexist.
The move may, however, require an understanding between rival airport operators to ensure that new projects are viable. The civil aviation ministry has also approved an airport project in Sindhudurg district of Maharashtra, which is further north of Goa.
Keeping the Dabolim airport open after the new facility is constructed in Goa would mean that three airports would be operating in a 130km stretch and competing for passenger and freight traffic.
The Goa government hopes to reach an agreement on traffic distribution between the Dabolim airport and the new facility, said the state government official cited earlier. The Sindhudurg project is a different matter because it is located in another state, the official added.