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Thursday, Nov 21, 2019

Navy stands ground over regulating construction around Goa airport

The navy has stood its ground pointing to a 2015 gazette notification of the civil aviation ministry which stipulates that a ‘No Objection Certificate’ (NOC) needs to be sought from the operating authority of a particular aerodrome before any construction within 20km from the runway.

india Updated: Oct 21, 2019 21:34 IST
Gerard de Souza
Gerard de Souza
Hindustan Times, Panaji
A simple Colour Coded Zoning Map (CCZM), which separates sectors or areas in various categories within 20km from the Goa airport runway, was promulgated by the Indian Navy earlier this month. (Representative image)
A simple Colour Coded Zoning Map (CCZM), which separates sectors or areas in various categories within 20km from the Goa airport runway, was promulgated by the Indian Navy earlier this month. (Representative image)(Goa Airport website Photo)
         

The Indian Navy, under pressure from politicians over its decision to regulate construction in areas surrounding the international airport in Goa, has defended its decision, saying it was only following the guidelines of the Union ministry of civil aviation.

The navy has also warned that there are “a few specific constructions in the immediate vicinity of the Dabolim Airport which are extremely detrimental to safe flying as well as security of this important airbase.”

A simple Colour Coded Zoning Map (CCZM), which separates sectors or areas in various categories within 20km from the runway, was promulgated by the Indian Navy earlier this month.

The map saw a livid state BJP minister Mauvin Godinho accusing the navy of trying to rule Goa by proxy. Godinho also represents the Dabolim constituency, which includes the airport.

“What will Goans do? Where will they go and build? Is it an effort of the navy or their ploy to come and rule Goans? We have an elected government here. We are in a democracy... (Only) anybody out of their mind will recommend that 20km around the radius of the airport there cannot be development or you can have development only with one storey buildings,” Goa’s minister for panchayats Godinho said.

“That means more than, almost half of Goa will have to go to the Navy for permission. What sort of law is this and how can it be practically implemented,” Godinho said last week.

“We cannot allow us to be ruled by the navy... Just because we salute them, respect them, we worship them literally for protecting the country, it does not mean that they should consider themselves the holy cow and totally go against civilian interest,” Godinho said.

However, the navy has stood its ground pointing to a 2015 gazette notification of the civil aviation ministry which stipulates that a ‘No Objection Certificate’ (NOC) needs to be sought from the operating authority of a particular aerodrome before any construction within 20km from the runway.

“Since Dabolim is a military/civil dual-use airfield, the Indian Navy is the aerodrome operating authority and the requirement of NOC is being pursued only in accordance with MoCA guidelines,” the navy has said in a statement.

“Only the Core Area around Dabolim Airfield and the Approach Path of runways would thereafter require NOC. In other sectors, NOC can be granted by local administration subject to varying height limitations. Only construction above these height limitations would require an NOC from the aerodrome operator,” the navy said.

“Thus the apprehension that the Navy will require NOCs from areas as far as Dona Paula and Agacaim for small buildings is unfounded,” it added.

Chief minister Pramod Sawant is expected to convene a meeting of government agencies and the Indian Navy to resolve the issue on October 22.

Such run-ins have been frequent, especially since Goa’s international airport, built by the Portuguese as a civilian airport, is now is a dual-use airport that is controlled by the navy.

The force also occupies a six-hour slot every morning reserved solely for navy flights and sorties.

Similarly, the navy’s decision to debar Goan devotees from visiting the Anjediva Island, home to two churches after they set up the Seabird Navy base there, has upset locals.