Protests by fisherfolk inside the waterdrome forced authorities to send back the inaugural seaplane flight without landing on Punnamada Lake on Sunday.

The seaplane launched from Ashtamudi Lake on Sunday afternoon did not fly to Alappuzha because of the protest by members of the fisheries coordination committee who had occupied the waterdrome near the SAI Sports Centre on the lake.

Though the police were deployed, sources said, the authorities had instructed against using force.

Nearly 150 protesters on boats surrounded the waterdrome for four hours, shouting slogans against the seaplane project. They said the service had been flagged off in haste without conducting any environmental study on the lake.

V. Dinakaran of the All Kerala Dheevara Sabha, T.J. Anjelose of the All India Trade Union Congress, P.P. Chittaranjan of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions, Jackson Pollayil of the Kerala Swanthanthra Matsya Thozhilali Federation and K. Pradeep of the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh led the protests. The leaders asked the fishermen to go about fishing during the protest.

Mr. Anjelose said that the protest would continue till the project was abandoned.

The protesters said hundreds of inland fishermen and clam collectors would lose their livelihoods when waterdromes came up on the lake.

The houseboat owners and those in the tourism sector had, however, welcomed the seaplane service, which, they said, will boost the tourism prospects of Alappuzha.

District Collector N. Padmakumar and District Police Chief Thomson Jose were present at the waterdrome.

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