Heli-tourism in Goa caught in Congress turbulence

Panaji, Feb 1 (IANS) The Congress state unit on Monday said heli-tourism on Aguada plateau in North Goa will endanger peacocks living in the eco-sensitive area and threatened to stop the launch of the service later this week.

The opposition party will oppose the heli-tourism project — whose launch was postponed after protests on Sunday — “physically and in courts”, if need be, Goa Congress spokesperson Agnelo Fernandes told media persons here.
“The Aguada plateau, overlooking the Sinquerim beach, is a fragile eco-sensitive area. Peacocks move there freely. Heli-tourism will not only destroy the environment and the peacocks, but also deter locals from picnicking in the area,” Fernandes said.
Heli-tourism is one of the initiatives of Goa Tourism to widen its offerings to the more than three million tourists — including half a million foreigners — who visit the “Perfect Holiday Destination” every year.
The heli-tourism project was opposed both by the Congress party and BJP MLA Michael Lobo, who staged a protest at the helipad at Aguada plateau, 20 km from Panaji, from where the service is expected to function.
The Goa Tourism Development Corporation, the nodal agency for the project, said heli-tourism will begin this week “for the benefit of tourism” even in the face of opposition.
The GTDC on Monday reiterated its stand that helicopter joyrides neither cause noise pollution nor would affect the eco-sensitive areas of Aguada.
According to Pawan Hans managing director B.P. Sharma, the 15-minute joyrides in six-seater choppers will fly over Fort Aguada and beaches like Miramar, Candolim, Calangute, Anjuna and Panaji and cost Rs.3,250 per passenger.