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Indian navy wants Goa islands ban

Two scenic tourist islands in Goa are at the centre of a security row after the Indian navy demanded they be made no-go zones.

The move is being opposed by the tourism industry and the state government, which is planning to set up an amusement park on the islands.

The navy says the islands, Grande and Pequeno, were important for the safety of the only international airport in the state, which is used by tourists.

They are close to the landing approach to Dabolim airport and there have been alerts in the past about possible terror attacks on the airport from the sea.

The navy's proposal would end tourism on the islands, a popular retreat 20 miles off Goa in the Arabian Sea.

Goa, on India's west coast, is known for its sandy beaches and attracts about 2.5 million tourists annually, including half a million foreigners, mostly from Britain, Israel and Russia.

State Revenue Minister Jose Phillip D'Souza said the navy proposal had come at a time when the government was planning to set up an amusement park there.

"We will see what the navy is trying to do, but we will oppose it," Mr D'Souza said.

A final decision rests with the federal government and it could be months away.

Shantaram Naik, from the governing Congress party, said if the navy took over the islands it would badly hit tourism and fishing in the region.

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