The Navy, it is learnt, has expressed reservations about the District Tourism Promotion Council's plan to introduce paragliding at Puthuvype beach citing military flight safety and the security of several vital installations in its vicinity.

District Collector P.I. Sheik Pareed had, earlier this month, said that the DTPC would launch powered paraglider operation from Puthuvype beach during the coming mid-summer vacation as a means to draw adventure-loving tourists to the port city.

Flying on powered gliders assisted by an operator at heights of up to 300 ft, gliding enthusiasts could get a breathtaking view of the coastal town and its backwater ways, he said.

Meanwhile, Southern Aerosports Club, Palakkad, which was to operate the gliders under the DTPC, sought the Southern Naval Command's permission for the venture.

The Navy, on its part, maintained that the proposed flight path of the gliders fell well within the routine local flying area of military aircraft taking off from the naval air station INS Garuda. “This raises flight safety concerns,” it is understood to have observed.

Further, the area adjoining the Naval Base housed many key installations such as the Cochin Port, the Vallarpadam Transshipment Container Terminal, the Kochi Refinery and the LNG Terminal.

Granting a go-ahead for glider operations over such a high-security zone, therefore, would cause security issues, it contended and asked the aerosports club to submit a detailed proposal to the Director General of Civil Aviation and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for permission. The DGCA and the MoD are the competent authorities to accord clearance for aerosports activity close to the coastline and defence installations. Officials of the club said that they would now seek the help of the district administration to pursue the proposal with the MoD.

They also said that the club had conducted a gliding display for the Navy during the Navy week celebrations in 2007.

The collector, on tour abroad, was unavailable for comment.

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