While the state is gearing up to welcome seaplanes into the Punnamada and Ashtamudi lakes next month, the move is drawing flak from both environmentalists and fishermen.
According to environmentalist M K Prasad, despite the Tourism department’s claims to have conducted environment impact studies for the project, it has failed to properly assess the impact that the seaplanes would have on the environment.
Also, the government has failed to take into consideration the effect such a project would have on the livelihood of the fishermen community. “Thousands of fishermen make their living out of these lakes. It is extremely unfair for the government to introduce this project in such a sensitive area,” M K Prasad said.
He also added that the Ashtamudi lake along with the Vembanad lake come under the Ramsar treaty and are hence liable to much protection. In other countries, the seaplanes are introduced in the open seas which in turn does not affect the fishermen community. Currently, lakes such as the Ashtamudi, Vembanad, Punnamada and the Cochin Backwaters have been identified for the implementation of the project.
Environmentalist S Seetharam told Express that only hasty environmental impact studies have been conducted so far for the project. According to Kerala Swanthanthra Matsya Thozhilali Federation general secretary P P John, the state government has not involved the fishermen community in any discussions till now.
“Once the project, which was introduced during the Emerging Kerala meet is implemented, the areas, where the sea plane land will become protected zones. Fishermen will be hindered from fishing in those areas,” P P John said.
Kerala State Matsya Thozhilali Federation (AITUC) is planning to hold a state wide convention against the project in Muhamma on April 16 and 17. However, tourism secretary Suman Billa dismissed such fears as unwarranted.