NGT Upholds Environmental Clearance to Mopa Greenfield Airport Project, Farmers Continue Protests

Reported by

Nihar GokhaleLand Conflict Watch

Last updated on

October 28, 2019

Location of Conflict

Mopa

,

North Goa

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Airport

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

7251

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

890

ha

State

Goa

Sector

Infrastructure

Mopa Greenfield Airport is a proposed international airport in North Goa. It will be spread over 2,200 acres of land, making it the largest land acquisition in independent Goa. The land is situated on a laterite plateau, consisting of forests, grazing lands, orchards and farms under seasonal cultivation, falling under the territory of six villages situated on the slopes of the plateau. Farmers and traditional cattle grazers, known as dhangars, are among those affected. The process of land acquisition began in 2008, but the airport project caught public attention in 2009, when civil society organisations, citizens and even sections of the Roman Catholic church protested with banners stating Goans for Dabolim Only and Maka Naka Mopa (I Dont Want Mopa). The government claims that a new airport is necessary as the Dabolim airport, which is a defence airport, cannot be expanded. The affected farmers have alleged that the government has not outlined a rehabilitation plan for the oustees, offered poor compensation rates and forcibly acquired their land. In 2013, they decided to approach the Supreme Court to challenge the land acquisition by the government. The farmers, along with a nonprofit, Federation of Rainbow Warriors, challenged the environmental clearance granted to the airport before the Pune bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT). In November 2016, the NGT bench ordered a status quo on the relocation of the affected farmers until the case was decided upon. To appease the farmers, the state government increased their compensation. But the farmers refused, saying that they wished to continue their traditional occupations and not part with the land at all. According to a reply in Rajya Sabha in December 2016, only 618 farmers were paid compensation out of the 7,869 persons eligible. The others refused to accept it. The Goa government awarded a 40year construction and operations contract to the GMR Group for the project, which is estimated to cost around Rs 3,000 crore. In 2017, as GMR commenced construction activities, people living in two neighbouring villages alleged that their homes were wrongly demolished. The residents claimed they had received no prior intimation or compensation for land acquisition and were given just two minutes to clear their belongings. In March 2018, the state government approved an additional compensation of three times higher the original rate to those displaced by the project. In August last year, the NGT upheld the environmental clearance granted to the project citing public interest but imposed additional environmental conditions. Environmental groups continue to oppose the project. They have pointed out that while the environmental clearance mentioned that the project site was barren, a government survey revealed that more than 55,000 trees at the site were going to be felled. An appeal against the treecutting is pending before the tribunal. Meanwhile, protests by farmers and statebased activists against the airport and the displacement of dhangars continue.

Region Classification

Type of Land

Private

Private and Common

Type of Common Land

Total investment involved (in Crores):

3000

Type of investment:

Land Area Affected
(in Hectares):

890

ha

Starting Year

2008

Government Bodies Involved in the Conflict:

Government of Goa, Ministry of Civil Aviation

Other Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Federation of Rainbow Warriors, an environmental activist group based in Margao

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

GMR Group

Has the Conflict Ended?

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Resources Related to Conflict