‘Unwarranted’: Navy responds to obstacle charge in Goa’s ‘development’
Since the Indian Navy operates the civil airport at Dabolim, cases for NOC in respect of Dabolim Airport are processed by Indian Navy as opposed to purely civil airfields in the country, it said.
Amid complaints by members of the Goa government that need for clearance by the Navy authorities for any construction in the vicinity of the Dabolim airport was an obstacle to the “development” of the state, the Navy has hit back terming such utterances as “entirely unwarranted”, while insisting that it has a clear charter of duties which it has never exceeded.
The Navy operates the dual purpose Goa International Airport, which is also a naval base.
“There have been statements reported by TV channels and print media regarding clearances required from the Indian Navy for construction in the vicinity of Dabolim Airport. It is reiterated that clearances/restrictions are in accordance with the Ministry of Civil Aviation (Height Restrictions for Safeguarding of Aircraft Operations) Rules, 2015,” the Navy said.
“Since the Indian Navy operates the civil airport at Dabolim, cases for NOC in respect of Dabolim Airport are processed by Indian Navy as opposed to purely civil airfields in the country where such clearances are processed by the Airports Authority of India (AAI),” Navy spokesperson K P Ajesh said in a statement.
The statement comes after members of the Mormugao Planning and Development Authority, a planning body that is dominated by political leaders that allow for or withhold construction permissions, have been speaking to the media lamenting that the need for clearance by the Navy authorities in the vicinity of the airport was an added obstacle to the “development” of the state.
“Unfounded allegations like Indian Navy is ‘restricting development’ in Goa are uncalled for as aviation safety at Dabolim is of paramount concern and will not be compromised. The issue of permits/NOCs is purely driven by international safety standards and has no relation with hindering development in Goa, least of all by the Indian Navy,” the Navy has insisted.
“Statements made in the media like the Navy wanting to ‘control Goa’ are entirely unwarranted and the nation’s Armed Forces have a clear charter which is never exceeded. The Indian Navy has been in the forefront to render assistance to the local citizens during times of crisis such as floods, etc,” it added.
The Navy pointed out that in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic when flights operations were suspended, it ferried samples collected in Goa to the lab in Pune as the state was yet to set up its own testing lab for Covid-19 samples. Similarly, the Navy also pitched in and helped transport PPE kits for the doctors in the state.
Earlier this year, Minister of Panchayati Raj, Mauvin Godinho who is also a member of the Mormugao Planning and Development Authority, had accused the Navy of trying to rule Goa by proxy, for what he said was dictating the nature of constructions around the airport.
It later transpired that a close aide of Godinho, who was also a builder, was seeking to regularise two residential complexes that fell within the flight approach path, a move that was steadfastly rejected by the Navy as the buildings didn’t meet the height restrictions that are mandatory around the airport.
The Bombay High Court at Goa had in an order directed the Navy to act against buildings that violated the height restrictions and came down heavily on the Mormugao Planning and Development Authority for trying to save the allegedly illegal buildings.