KOCHI: For the UDF Government led by Oommen Chandy, no strategy seems to be working when it comes to the proposed seaplane project in Alappuzha, which has been facing resistance from the fisherfolk.
The question is, can the government, which nonchalantly faced many political crises recently, pass this acid test?
“We are trying our best to implement the seaplane project. The expert committee that looked into the concerns raised by the fisherfolk has given green signal. The government is committed to realising this ambitious project after reaching an agreement with the fisherfolk,” Tourism Minister A P Anil Kumar told Express.
Last week, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in its Economic Report for the 2013-14 fiscal year stated that many of the projects envisaged by the Tourism Department, including its flagship seaplane project, had failed to take off. The CAG also questioned the sincerity of the Department in completing the project in time, and pointed out that a feasibility study should have been conducted before finalising the seaplane project.
When asked why the government machinery was not able to revive the project after its initial failure, the Minister attributed it to the ‘misconceptions’ of the fisherfolk. “The fishermen fear that once initiated, the project would affect fishing activity in the area and pollute the water body. These apprehensions are baseless as the expert committee has informed that the project would not affect fishing activity, and that the seaplanes would not discharge oil into water. The only thing we foresee is that when the seaplane lands it will create moderate waves, which will not be a concern for country boats or houseboats,” said the Minister.
He said the government was working towards launching the project on a war footing, and that a few companies had shown interest in operating seaplanes.
“We are yet to finalise the company. The stiff residence put up by the fisherfolk is a matter of concern for the bidders. Anyway, we will go ahead with the conciliatory talks,” the Minister added.