The Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday allowed resuming the construction of an international airport at Mopa in Goa. The judgment comes after a year when the apex court had suspended all construction activities for the greenfield project, ordering status quo in the case.
On 18 January 2019, the SC had ordered the Goa government and GMR Goa International Airport Ltd (GGIAL) to maintain status quo on the under-construction airport due to environmental impact.
Construction of phase 1 of the airport was underway when the top court had given its order. As per the concession agreement with GMR Airports Ltd, the airport was to be commissioned by September 2020. Former chief minister of the state Manohar Parrikar had said the project would get delayed due to the SC order.
The project has a provision for two runways. However, it was planned that only one runway with a taxiway was to be constructed initially and the second runway will be built based on the traffic flow at the proposed airport spread over 2,271 acres in Pernem at Mopa.
The apex court had ruled in favour of two petitions filed by Goa-based activists Hanumant Aroskar and Federation of Rainbow Warriors, who had challenged the environmental clearance given by National Green Tribunal, Pune. Separately, the tribunal also rejected applications by the two petitioners in August 2018.
The two petitioners sought a stay from the SC over the illegal felling of 55,000 trees at Mopa, arguing that the environment impact assessment (EIA) report by the environment tribunal only mentioned the bushes on the airport site.
In March 2019, the SC had refused to lift its stay on the illegal felling of trees, asking the expert appraisal committee (EAC) to revisit the recommendations it had given for the grant of environmental clearance to the project. The SC had barred any other court or tribunal from accepting fresh petitions in the case, until EAC submitted its report.