Congress, BJP politicians buying up land: farmers

Panaji, June 4 (IANS) Politicians from both the Congress and the BJP have been buying large tracts of land near a proposed airport site in north Goa, farmers protesting the project said Tuesday.

They also said that both political parties were backing the airport project only to beef up real estate rates in the area.

Addressing a press conference in Panaji, activist Sandeep Kambli named three politicians who had purchased land in the vicinity of the airport site in Mopa village, located 40 km north of the capital, near the Goa-Maharashtra border.

“Laxmikant Parsenkar, Ramakant Khalap and Wilson Godinho, brother of Congress MLA Mauvin Godinho, are those who we know have bought land near Mopa. We have copies of the sale deeds of these three politicians. There may be more,” Kambli said.

Parsenkar is a former state president of the BJP and is now health minister in the BJP-led coalition government. Khalap is a former union minister of state for law and currently a Congressman. So is Mauvin, a legislator from the Dabolim constituency from south Goa.

While BJP spokesperson Damu Naik said Parsenkar’s land purchases in Mopa have been genuine and with no ulterior motive, both Khalap and Mauvin have insisted that the reason why they were rooting for the new airport was for the betterment of Goa.

Goa presently has one functioning airport, an Indian Navy run facility at Dabolim, 35 km from Panaji.

But according to the Goa government, increasing passenger traffic, combined with military restrictions on timing and access to areas within the airport had forced both the central and the state governments to start another airport in north Goa.

The Mopa airport, however, has been at the centre of a political storm, almost creating a North Goa-South Goa divide.

South Goa politicians claim that once Mopa is operational, the military airport at Dabolim would be off-limits to civilians.

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