KOCHI: Even after the report of the committee constituted to study the impact on fishing sector if the Seaplane project is implemented in Kerala was submitted, a clear directive is yet to be issued by the government.
The companies who have come forward to start the project are in a dilemma as there is no assurance from the government that the service could be operated without any hindrance. With the closure of the bars and the legal battle between the bar owners and government continuing there is apprehension among the entrepreneurs that investing huge money for the project and forcing them to leave it half way would result in a huge loss. Kerala Seaplane Services managing director Umesh Kamath said that already one airline is made available to operate service in Kerala. Now it is in Dubai and it is not brought here as the government is yet to give all the clearance for operating the service. “Though Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has assured that the seaplane services will start as soon as possible, a consensus is yet to be reached with the fishermen community who fear that the fish wealth would be badly affected with the operation of the service. We are not taking any risk to bring the aircraft to Kerala, as it would be a huge financial burden to the company if the project does not take off,” Umesh said.
A discussion with the airline companies, fishermen community leaders, government officials and media should be convened so that an agreement or consensus could be reached on the issue. Now, the bar issue in Kerala forces the entrepreneurs not to take any risk for investment as they fear loss of money.
S Anil Kumar, managing director, Kerala Tourism Infrastructure Limited, which was entrusted with coordinating the project, said that the report on the impact of fish wealth has already been submitted to the government. As per the study, there is only one place in Alappuzha where it could affect the fishermen.
“The seaplane service at Alappuzha will be shifted to Vattakayal so that the issue could be solved at the earliest. Already more than three companies have expressed their willingness to operate service in Kerala,” Anil Kumar said.
The service could start any time from airport to airport and also at Kollam. In other places, the apprehension of fishermen should be discussed and they have to be taken into confidence before the service is started.
When more operators come forward to start the service, more places could also be included. It has already been proved that the project is successful in other parts of the world and here too it will be well accepted by the tourists, he added.
When the project was inaugurated, Kairali Aviation brought an aircraft to operate the service. When the project was delayed it was anchored at Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL) paying huge money as rent and later they have taken away the aircraft from here.
The seaplanes are not to be brought to Kochi till approvals are received as the expense for maintaining it comes to Rs 18 to 20 lakh a month. The project concept was to provide an additional layer of transportation by offering last mile connectivity by air to the renowned destinations.