Panaji: The Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday lifted the suspension on the Environmental Clearance granted for the construction of international airport at Mopa in Pernem taluka of North Goa.
The SC has also directed that the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) be appointed to oversee compliance with the directions cumulatively issued by it.
“The earlier judgment of this Court highlighted numerous deficiencies by the project proponent leading to the grant of the EC. This Court highlighted numerous concerns including the preservation of forests, the existence of ESAs with their attendant features and the impact of the proposed project on natural water channels. The Court also noted the abject failure of the project proponent to provide complete information on the existence of reserved forests,” the SC observed.
“In the proceedings that followed the judgment of this Court, the project proponent sought to remedy its failure by taking into account additional information on significant aspects of the environment,” it observed.
“In the process leading to the grant of the EC as well as the lifting of its suspension by this Court, numerous mitigatory conditions have been imposed on the project proponent. We deem it appropriate to ensure the oversight of the project by a specialised body to ensure compliance with the directions cumulatively issued by this Court. We direct the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute to be appointed to oversee compliance with the directions cumulatively issued by this Court. The project proponent shall bear the costs, expenses and fees of NEERI,” it observed.
During the course of the hearing before SC, a statement was made on behalf of the concessionaire GMR Goa International Airport Limited, that in the event of SC sustaining the EC for the project, it stands committed to fulfill the objective of making the proposed greenfield airport at Mopa Goa, a zero carbon airport operation.
“We have also taken note of the assurance which has been tendered on behalf of the concessionaire that it will adopt a Zero Carbon Programme both in the construction and operational phases of the airport. We accept the undertaking of the concessionaire and issue a direction for compliance,” it observed.
Speaking to GT, Civil Aviation Director Suresh Shanbhogue said, “Since the EC is restored, the process for construction of the Mopa airport commences with immediate effect. As per the earlier schedule, the first phase was supposed to be completed on Seetember 3, 2020. The new schedule is yet to be finalised. Now that the judgment is come, the assessment would be made and the fresh dates would be decided."
Great relief: CM
Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said that the decision of Supreme Court paving way for construction of Goa International Airport at Mopa is a great relief for the state.“Mopa Airport will open new avenues for Goa and propel the economic growth of the State,” said Sawant.“The Govt is committed towards sustainable development that prioritises its people and environment,” he said.
GCCI welcomes decision
Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) has welcomed the the SC decision to restore the EC granted to the Mopa Airport project. “This will pave way for speedy completion of the much needed greenfield international airport. Goa Chamber does appreciate the concerns raised by environmentalists. However, the focus should now be on proper implementation of environmental norms and not on stopping a good developmental project,” stated a press release issued by GCCI.