PANAJI: The Goa government today went ahead with its tourism proposal amid protests by fishermen community and conducted trial of sea plane landing on Mandovi river in the heart of the state.
The traditional fishermen have threatened to end their lives if Goa government allows the sea planes to operate in the waters disturbing their livelihood.
However, despite agitations, Goa Tourism minister Dilip Parulekar today decided to go ahead with this unique tourism proposal by giving a nod to fly the first ever plane, from Dabolim airport, to successfully land in River Mandovi at 11.45 AM in the heart of the state.
"We have been opposing this project. Government wants to get this activity at the cost of our livelihood," said Goenchya Ramponkarancho Ekvott President, Agnelo Rodrigues, ahead of the trials in the capital city today.
Rodrigues said fishermen will commit suicide as a protest act if government does not scrap the proposal.
The nine-seater plane took sortie along the river front till Miramar beach and also took off to Chapora river situated around 20 kms away.
Goa Tourism had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Maritime Energy Heli AIR Services Pvt. Ltd. (MEHAIR) to launch this service in Goa. The state will be the second after Maharashtra to have such services meant to boost tourism.
Parulekar said fishermen are raising unwarranted issues. "Their livelihood will not be affected. Government is completely aware and concerned about the traditional fishermen. The sea plane service will attract large chunk of high end tourists who will give boost to our economy. If tourism sector has to grow we will have to be innovative," the minister said.
State Tourism Director Amey Abhyankar said that several routes will be identified for the plane in consultation with Fisheries Department, Captain of Ports and Goa Coastal Police to ensure that operations do not affect the marine eco-system, fishing activities, inland water transportation and water sport operations.
"The aircraft service would start post monsoon," said Siddharth Verma, Co-founder, MEHAIR.
He said the questions about the impact of this service on the flora and fauna are unwarranted.
"It comes and goes very quickly so that there is no question of any impact," he said, adding it is far environment-friendly compared to the boat.
Verma said it is a high profile project which will boost local industry and provide employment to locals.
"It will also lead to boom in real estate around waterdrome," he added.
According to him, the service can operate in waters and also in the rocky area.
"It offers overnight air connectivity to any region. The vacation destination is converted into weekend destination due to quick connectivity," he said.
The state tourism department had recently introduced Hot Air Balloon and amphibious bus services in the state.