Roadmap ready, project listed in Mission 676

Kerala Tourism is gearing up to start seaplane service with amphibian aircraft at least by September before the peak tourist season.

A roadmap had been chalked out to ensure that the service, included in Mission 676, took off by Onam, sources said.

The inaugural flight of the Cessna 206 H amphibian aircraft from Ashtamudi Lake in Kollam was forced to return without landing on Punnamada Lake in Alappuzha on June 2, 2013, following opposition from the fisherfolk.

Expert panel

An expert committee, headed by Tourism Secretary Suman Billa, was set up to look into ‘any probable impact’ of seaplane operations on inland fisheries. The committee will soon submit its report.

The committee, in its interim report, had observed that apprehensions about water-dromes at Ashtamudi, Punnamada, Munnar, Bolgatty, and Bekal reducing the fishing area were ‘prima facie unfounded.’

Interim report

“We have made public the interim report and there is no comment or objection on or against our observations. Judging by this, we will finalise the report soon,” Mr. Billa told The Hindu here on Sunday.

Measures for stock enhancement to increase yield in water-dromes located in an active fishing area, steps to involve fisherfolk in Responsible Tourism initiatives, and open water cage farming were the measures mooted. This would be taken up as part of the corporate social responsibility, source said.

Fisheries Minister K. Babu and Tourism Minister A.P. Anil Kumar will convene a meeting of the agitating fishermen to sort out the issues. Mr. Billa said the biggest challenge before us was to win over the confidence of the seaplane operators to kick off the services.

“We are banking on the four shortlisted operators who have placed orders for new aircraft abroad to launch the services,” he said.

The water-drome set up in Ashtamudi would be retained.

Instead of Punnamada Lake in Alappuzha, the water-drome would be shifted to Vattakayal which has less fishing activity as suggested by the committee.

A new water-drome would have to be set up and the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) would have to inspect it and give certification for launching the service, he said.

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