Attempts by Tourism Minister A.P. Anil Kumar to allay apprehensions raised by the fishing community over the seaplane project through talks here on Friday drew a blank.
Leaders of the various trade unions of fishermen who walked out of the talks said they would go ahead with the protest against the seaplane project.
As announced earlier, members of the fishing community will organise a human chain on Ashtamudi Lake here on June 2 when Chief Minister Oommen Chandy inaugurates the maiden seaplane service of the State (Ashtamudi to Punnamada) on that day. The inaugural function will be at the course of the lake behind the ESI Hospital complex at Asramam.
Members of the fishing community, including women and children, would enter the lake in boats from the Kadavur bridge location and move towards the inauguration venue, a leader of the fishing community said.
They are registering their protest out of fear that the operation of seaplanes will adversely affect their means of livelihood.
The Minister, meanwhile, said the project was being launched on an experimental basis and if it was found to do any harm to the interests of the fishing community, it would be withdrawn.
He said that fears raised by the fishing community at this stage could be taken up for talks with the Chief Minister. But the trade union leaders had rejected it.
Mr. Anil Kumar told the leaders that the seaplane project in operation at many countries gave feedbacks that it had in no way affected the livelihood of fishermen or caused pollution.
In fact, a seaplane project for the State was mooted by the previous Left Democratic Front government, he said. But it was the pro-Left fishermen trade unions which were now in the forefront opposing the project.
The Minister said that the operation of services would be only between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Studies showed that seaplanes do not pollute the water since their engines were not in the water unlike boats with internal combustion motors in the water. Seaplanes generate noise for only a few seconds.
The meeting called in the presence of Collector B. Mohanan was attended by trade union leaders J. Mercykutty, V.V. Saseendran, H. Basilal, T. Manoharan, P.P. John, and R. Prasad. Managing director of Kerala Tourism Infrastructure Limited Anil Kumar and secretary of the Kollam District Tourism Promotion Council K. Prasad were present.