Sunday, 24 June 2007


By Philip Thomas
I have been wanting to respond to
OHeraldo's June 5 editorial titled "One-sided" for a long time but could not do so till now. The Civil Aviation Minister had, in some understandable election-eve rhetoric, called for Dabolim to emerge as a "gateway to the world".

OHeraldo jumped on this and cried that this "does stink of elitism". It asked archly why airports are earmarked for "first priority" in upgradation, thus implying that "those who
come by air are superior" to those who arrive by road and rail.(In its usual propensity to shoot from the hip i.e without proof-reading its material, it mistakenly referred to the latter as "air" but we shall let that pass).
It argued that charter tourists do not spend, unlike the surface travellers who presumably do. The latter were being "ignored with third class facilities", it complained, without elaborating.
Oheraldo makes a couple of fundamental errors. Firstly, it believes -- wrongly-- that funds are fungible. What is not spent for airports can be spent for surface transport or whatever. This is not the case. Funds have to be allocated for all spectra of society not one or the other. This is a very common trap into which OHeraldo constantly falls in its zeal for the common man in its editorials. The other obvious error is that it is mixing apples with oranges.
The civil aviation minister can only focus on his jurisdiction. He cant be expected to take responsibility for road and rail upgradation as Oheraldo expects.
What OHeraldo should have done was to focus on what the minister is saying and doing about Dabolim. What are the remaining "formalities" regarding transfer of land for the required upgrade? What is the problem with night flights at Dabolim which foreign airlines usually require? Why is pressure not being applied to the Navy to relocate its training flights to free
up slots for civilian traffic. Pune has succeeded in getting one IAF squadron to relocate for this purpose.
Finally, OHeraldo needs to increase its awareness of what is happening in Goa's neighbourhood. All neighbouring states, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra and Maharashtra, are actively pushing for upgradation of their airports and construction of new ones. Can Goa afford to fall behind? Should its people and visitors be condemned to negotiate the journey by 15 hour road and
rail trips? Jack Kennedy is supposed to have said "A country cannot afford to neglect its cities if it wants to develop". We would extend that to say that a city cannot afford to neglect its airport(s). Hence, a citistate like Goa cant afford to neglect its airport(s) either.
In Goa there is, however, a serious mental block about discussing airport issues. During the elections and after, "Churchill Alemao" was probably the shorthand used for "airport issues". This kind of subliminal treatment will take for ever to grapple with meaningfully. OHeraldo is adding to the confusion with its off- the-cuff and off- target editorials on the subject.
(courtesy goajourno)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your statement "Hence, a citistate like Goa ...." is very interesting.
Please take a look at the pictures on the front page of each newspaper dated Sunday, 24th June 2007.
Take the Herald for instance and a pic of the 18th June road. Backwater tourism anyone? Please visit the 'Viscount' territories, Canacona, Sanguem, Sattari.
Goa is a citistate, (presumably something desireable) but only for the wealthy.

25 June 2007 at 12:55  

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