Sunday, 12 May 2013
Civilian airport to stay at Dabolim: Antony
Says no plans either to shift Naval base
PANJIM: Defence Minister AK Anthony has categorically asserted that the civilian airport would continue at Dabolim and the Navy and the Centre would provide all possible support, but added that there were no plans to shift naval aviation wing from Goa.
“There’s no plan like that”, he said responding to a query in presence of the Chief of Naval Staff, Adm DK Joshi while speaking to media after commissioning the MiG 29K INAS 303 ‘Black Panthers’ Squadron at the INS Hansa Base Saturday.
The Defence Minister also assured that the Dabolim civilian airport will co-exist along with the naval base and any issue, will be solved amicably with the Goa Government. “Indian Navy is always thankful to all the Governments of Goa and people of Goa for giving support to the Navy’s efforts”, he said, adding, “In the past all the problems have been solved and whenever any such problems come up in future, we will generously sort it out.”
There has been a lot of pressure from certain sections on taking the airport back from the Navy and using it only for civilian purposes only and a fierce debate still rages on, fuelled by the State government plans to expedite the construction of the Mopa Greenfield airport.
Earlier, the MiG 29K INAS 303 Black Panther squadron was commissioned by the Defence Minister on Saturday morning at the INS Hansa Naval Base in Dabolim, as the Navy’s aviation wing celebrates its Diamond Jubilee.
The multi role fighters will be based on aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya which is expected to join the navy in December this year.
The squadron under Commanding Officer Captain A D Theofilus was commissioned with 16 aircrafts with its base at the INS Hansa.
A dressed up naval base greeted the Defence Minister who inspected the Guard of Honour. The naval wing also held a fly past followed by a pair of Sea Harriers escorting a MiG 29K at the speed of 800 kms per hour before the official commissioning.
The MIG 29Ks were inducted in February 2010 and underwent rigorous trials before Saturday's commissioning.
Defence Minister congratulated the Naval Staff on the commissioning of the new fleet of fighter aircrafts to its aviation wing. “The security scenario is changing, more so in the oceans. Security of the sea-lines are all the more important now a days because sea-lines are our life lines,” he said adding “Acquisition of new technology and better training of personnel would give the Navy provide an edge over adversaries,”
Flying the MiG 29K from the Vikramaditya, the aircraft carried to be launched in December, will be a challenge, he emphasized.
As the Naval Aviation wing is celebrating its Diamond Jubilee year the Defence Minister cautioned the Navy that along with taking stock of achievements it should also introspect and chart out a roadmap to face future challenges.
The first Naval Aviation unit INS Garuda was commissioned in 1963 in Cochin. The Chief of Naval Staff, Adm D K Joshi was delighted on the commissioning of the MiG 29K squadron and congratulated the officers and sailors. The Navy in its expansion and enhancement will be inducting a large number of aircrafts, informed the Naval Chief.
Trawler-Coast Guard vessel mishap unfortunate: Minister
PANJIM: Defence Minister AK Antony expressed regret at the unfortunate mishap of the trawler Sea Messiah, which was caused by the Coast Guard Vessel off the Goa Coast.
“We are all sorry about that,” he said promising that appropriate action will be taken against officials responsible for the accident. “We will do everything possible to help the families”, he assured.
On April 25, Indian Coast Guard's patrol vessel ICGS Vaibhav had dashed against trawler 'Sea Messiah' 15 nautical miles from the Agonda coast resulting in death of six crew members from a total of 23. A Naval board is inquiring into the incident as also the Yellow Gate police.
Mopa movement non-political, says Fr Eremito
MARGAO: Convenor of Goans for Dabolim Only Fr Eremito Rebello on Saturday said that neither the BJP nor the Congress has pushed him to take up the airport issue, but he has gone ahead with the movement with the blessings of Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao.
Speaking at a meeting at Betalbatim on Saturday, Fr Rebello said he had approached the Archbishop after his conscience did not permit him to maintain silence on government’s move to build the Mopa airport. “My Bishop told me to go ahead with the movement if my conscience says so. I have started this movement with the blessings of my Bishop. “The BJP thinks that I have been pushed into the movement by the Congress, while the Congress thinks that it was the BJP that has forced me to take up the issue”, he said adding that the decision not to invite MLAs or defeated candidates or panchas, to share the dais was taken so as not to give an impression that the movement is political.
He thundered that the ongoing movement against Mopa is not a political issue, but a social issue since closure of the Dabolim airport would spell doom for all business related to the Dabolim airport. Fr Rebello made the clarification following misunderstanding at the Betalbatim meeting when the compere invited local sarpanch Esperance Fernandes on the dais. When the sarpanch walked towards the dais, Fr Rebello clarified that the platform is not open for the politicians and profusely apologised for the lapse. An infuriated sarpanch, however, demanded to know why she was invited to take the dais and it was only later that she put forth her views from the audience, demanding that the ministers and MLAs should go to Delhi to get the Mopa airport scrapped instead of bringing the people on the streets.
Fr Rebello lambasted the political class for fooling and misguiding the people that Dabolim airport would remain even if Mopa becomes a reality. He produced documents to substantiate his claim that Dabolim will be shut once Mopa becomes a reality.
“The Liberation of Goa is incomplete as long as the Navy is in control of the Dabolim Airport. During the Portuguese regime, the Dabolim Airport was a civilian airport and during Liberation, the Indian Navy was allowed to use the airport only to fight against the Portuguese,” said Fr Rebello.
Claiming that the new expansion at the Dabolim airport can cater tourists for the next 50 years, Fr Rebello referred to a letter dated May 1, 2000, from the Civil Aviation Ministry stating that the Dabolim Airport would be taken over by the Navy once Mopa airport is commissioned.
He also accused successive State governments of failing to take back the civilian airport from the Navy.
In his speech, Fr Jose Antonio D’Costa, parish priest of St Andrew’s Church at Vasco, warned that if the civilian airport is shifted to Mopa, the economy of the port town will crumble.
Zarina D’Cunha informed the gathering that the Mopa airport will only be feasible if it can cater to around 25 lakh passengers per day.
The meeting was addressed amongst others by Rajendra Kakodkar, Terezinha Fernandes and Kim Miranda.
The Goans for Dabolim Only Forum will have two meetings on Sunday at Cavelossim and Sao Jose de Areal to drum up support for the rally planned at the Lohia Maidan on May 15.
Front blames CM for failing to restart mining
PANJIM: For the first time a section of the mining dependent people under the All India Trade Union Congress umbrella have targeted the Manohar Parrikar government for the continuing mining ‘crisis’, for not doing enough to end the mining ban and “taking the Supreme Court lightly.”
At a press conference on Saturday All India Trade Union Congress general secretary Christopher Fonseca accused the Parrikar government for failing to present a strong case before the Supreme Court for resumption of mining activities. The Goa Mining People’s Front has also pointed out that the Supreme Court had not considered their plea at earlier hearings arguing that they had heard Karnataka, and even Orissa (mining dependents). He also argued that mining affected the livelihood of over four lakh people.
"Our CM in Goa thinks he knows everything and that there is nobody in Goa who knows anything other than him, and that is the problem. And that is the impression not only in Goa but all over India. And that is actually failing us and creating problems for the state," he said arguing that it was time to “call a spade a spade.”
Mining in Goa is currently halted following a Supreme Court ad interim order banning mining activity, transport and export. The ongoing petition on illegal versus legal mining case would now be heard after the court vacation.
"Such a technocratic Chief Minister, such a brilliant Chief Minister… who claims to be brilliant and everyone claims him to be a brilliant Chief Minister… We had a poor show in the Supreme Court, an absolutely poor show. And if this is the kind of governance we are talking about then the future of Goa is very bleak," he argued.
Admitting that resumption of mining is in the hands of apex court, Fonseca said ‘State and Centre have their own issues, where they are not joining hands and as a result people are made to suffer’.
Speaking about GMPF recent visit to New Delhi, Fonseca said that Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram has assured to consider granting a financial package to the State, provided there is a concrete proposal from the State government.
“A proposal from mining dependent cannot be considered. There has to be an initiative from government,” Fonseca said quoting Chidambaram, who claimed that so far no proposal has been received.
GMPF has requested Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh to put up a plea before the Supreme Court for day-to-day hearing of the illegal mining case notwithstanding the vacations, which he has agreed to consider, Fonseca said. GMPF is likely to have a convention of all mining stakeholders, shortly.