Seaplane project crash lands; Kerala government orders asset redeployment

This comes at a time when the aviation regulator DGCA last week issued licensing norms for setting up water aerodromes facilities.

Published: 03rd July 2018 10:06 PM  |   Last Updated: 03rd July 2018 10:06 PM   |  A+A-

A seaplane at Punnami Ghat in Andhra Pradesh (File Photo)

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Kerala’s dream to have an exhilarating ride and water landing over the backwaters of the state in a seaplane has finally crash landed with the state government deciding to hand over the equipment and facilities set up for the project to Kannur International Airport Limited (KIAL) and DoT and DTPC, signalling the end of the seaplane project which was conceived to give a boost to the tourism sector in the state.

This comes at a time when the aviation regulator DGCA last week issued licensing norms for setting up water aerodromes facilities. A day after the development, the Odisha government has directed its tourism department to cooperate with SpiceJet Limited and Airport Authority of India (AAI) and explore the possibility of introducing sea plane services in Odisha.

According to a government order, the state government gave the sanction to redeploy the facilities including waterdrome, houseboat, speed boats, floating jetty, channel marking buoys, X-ray machines, hand held metal detectors, door frame metal detectors, VHF equipment, communication systems, fire fighting equipment, wind direction indicators, explosive detection kits, explosive vapour detectors etc to various institutions including KIAL, DTPC Kollam, and DoT.

Since it is not possible to hold seaplane services in the backwaters of Ashtamudi, Punnamada, Bekal and Kochi, the government has taken the steps to redeploy the assets set up for the projects, the order said. Earlier, Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran told Express that the government has no plans to resume the project in the present scenario of the state.

The government has also given permission to withdraw the service of the State Industrial Security Force (SISF) personnel deputed for the security of the assets after the redeployment of the assets. Rani George, Secretary, Tourism, told ‘Express’ the assets had been maintaining by the department over the years without a clarity on the project. Following this, the directorate of the tourism suggested a proposal to redeploy the assets, which is now accepted by the government.

Earlier, Express has reported that the project had been bleeding the state coffers with the state government had to set aside a considerable amount of fund for the upkeep of the assets including the salary of security personnel annually. The state government recently sanctioned a sum of Rs 81.45 lakhs as six-month expense for the maintenance of the waterdrome facilities and its redeployment. The government has also spent a sum of Rs 13.57 crore till 2016 on the project.

The seaplane project which launched in 2013 was grounded following the protest of fishermen community. The project has also bled a couple of private players who brought amphibious aircraft on lease from foreign countries to hold services from Kerala in response to the government call to connect the scenic spots in the state and Lakshadweep with seaplane services. With the redeployment of assets, an ambitious project launched with aim of giving a new momentum to the Kerala tourism has take an abrupt crash landing.

Info Box

  • The state govt recently sanctioned Rs 81.45 lakhs as six month expense for the maintenance of the waterdrome facilities and its redeployment
     
  • The government has spent a sum of Rs 13.57 crore till 2016 on the project
     
  • The ‘Seabird Seaplane Pvt Ltd, Kairali Aviations and Kairali airlines come forward to hold services from CIAL to various spots inside Kerala and Lakshadweep
     
  • Among the companies, Seabird Seaplane Pvt Ltd, and Kairali Aviations had hired amphibian aircraft and brought them to Kerala for holding services
     
  • The seaplane project which launched in 2013 was grounded following the protest of fishermen community
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