STEENA JOY – Mumbai
Kerala’s seaplane project, the first in India, has not yet taken off. Reasons being the unusually heavy monsoons as well as fishermen’s protests over its impact on the state’s famous backwaters and marine ecology. Speaking exclusively to Express TravelWorld, Harikishore S, director, Kerala Tourism, said, “Yes, objection from fishermen, and because of the rains, seaplane operations have not commenced as yet. To address the issue, a five member committee has been constituted by the state government to study the impact of seaplanes on Kerala’s backwaters. The committee is likely to submit its report by first week of September.”
He added, “Out of 900 sq km of backwater areas, only one sq km is required for a waterdrome, so the impact is minimal. At present the government is considering two waterdromes, one each in Punnamada (Alapuzha district) and in Ashtamudi (Kollam district) Later, in phase 2, after consultative talks with concerned departments, it is envisaged to start operations to Wayanad (Karappuazha dam reservoir), Munnar (reservoir) and Bekal (river). The government is inviting more operators for effective operations.”
The project which was launched with much fanfare by chief minister Oomen Chandy on June 2 is based on a Zero Subsidy – Open Sky Policy. Bengaluru-based Kairali Aviation is one of the operators selected to run the maiden service. Besides Kairali Aviation, Kerala Tourism has shortlisted four other companies for operating the seaplane services.