Shift Vembanad Waterdrome to Vattakayal: Tourism Dept Expert Panel
ALAPPUZHA: The expert committee, appointed by the State Tourism Department to study the environmental impact of sea plane service at Vembanad Lake, has recommended shifting of the waterdrome, in which the seaplanes are anchored, from the lake to Vattakayal.
The panel, headed by Tourism secretary Suman Billa, has urged the Department to relocate the waterdrome as it was affecting the livelihood of the fishermen.
The state government had constructed the waterdrome at Punnamada, near the Sports Authority of India Centre, after spending lakhs of rupees ahead of the inauguration of the sea plane service last year. The government’s move didn’t find favour with the fishermen and the environmentalists who had expressed their angst by blocking landing of the plane on the inaugural day.
Following the incident, the government had appointed an expert committee comprising-Vice Chancellor of Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies B Madhusoodana Kurup, former associate director of Regional Agricultural Research Station Kumarakom K G Padmakumar, principal scientist, Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute K Madhu and managing director of Kerala Tourism Infrastructure Limited S Anilkumar as members.
Last month the committee had submitted its report to the state government. The study points out that the sea plane service caused no harm to Vembanad Lake’s marine life. The report said that Punnamada Lake is suitable for the waterdrome, but since a lot of the fishing activity takes place in the adjoining areas it would be better to shift the waterdrome to Vattakayal which is not located in the main stretch of Vembanad Lake. A lot of houseboats too ply on Punnamada Lake.
Vattakayal, which is surrounded by paddy fields and is relatively deep, is an apt place for the waterdrome, said the report. The report pointed out that to alleviate the concerns of the fishermen, the government should take steps to launch projects aimed at improving the marine wealth of the backwaters.The panel, which had to go to the Andamans to conduct trials for its study due to the unavailability of sea planes in Vembanad and Ashtamudi, found that the landing and take off of these planes made no significant difference in the temperature, salinity, pH and transparency of the water in the area.“No perceptible changes were visible on the biological components in the waterdrome area,” the report said. Approximately an area of over 2 acre will be needed for creating a landing space for the plane. This shows that the water area unavailable for fishing is negligible when compared to the total expanse of the waterbody, the report said.
It also pointed out that the impact of sea planes on the hydrochemistry or hydrobiology of the water body is highly insignificant and the findings do not in any way support the argument that the sea plane operation will affect the sustenance of marine resources or biological communities of the area.
The extent of turbulence generated as a result of the operation of sea planes is also negligible.
The impact is less than two inches when compared to the ones created by a speed boat or other aquatic vehicles cruising on the backwaters, the report said.According to K G Padmakumar, a member of the expert committee, the sea planes did not make any environmental or ecological impact on the lake.
“The government, however, should take steps to address the apprehensions of the fishermen community. The new projects which the government has been implementing in the tourism sector is shrinking the areas available to the fishermen and this in turn is affecting their livelihood.
“So the government should launch projects to improve their livelihood and create employment opportunities for them,” Padmakumar said. He said the seaplane operation will neither cause pollution nor have adverse impact on the aquatic ecosystem of the water bodies and is environmental friendly.The fishermen pointed out that though the government has renewed its efforts to re-launch the seaplane services, it has done nothing to alleviate their concerns.