Seaplane project to connect Kasargod

3 out of 8 sites in Kasargod; operations to commence soon

Seaplane project to connect Kasargod

The Kerala government’s ambitious seaplane project, a first of its kind in India, which kicked off this month, has been expected to give a big boost to the tourism sector of Northern Kerala. As three places in Kasargod district viz., Thalangara, Kottapuram and Ayitty, have been included in the operation sites of the project, the Kerala government is all set to woo tourists from coastal Karnataka belt.

 “Though seaplane has not reached here, we are leaving no stone unturned to attract people from Karnataka also, as this is a unique project experienced never before,” State owned Kerala Tourism Infrastructure Limited (KTIL) General Manager Unnikrishnan told Deccan Herald. KTIL is the nodal agency for the project. The priority circuit identified by KTIL for seaplane project is Trivandrum Airport – Ashtamudi – Punnamada – Vembanadu – Munnar – Kochi Airport -Cochin Backwaters. A total of eight sites including three from Kasargod district have been identified for immediate operations after Priority Circuit.

According to KTIL, the project concept is to provide an additional layer of transportation by offering last mile connectivity by air to the renowned destinations of the State.

The abundant water bodies across the state will be strategically leveraged to effectively implement this project.

The service shall provide unique experience to travellers both as a joy ride and as an effective mode of air transport to distant destinations. The greatest advantage of seaplanes is that the large investments required to build airports and runways are not required in this case.

“Seaplanes can be operated in water body as well as in airstrips. There are seaplanes that operate from a water body to another or from a regular airstrip to a water body or vice versa. The latter type is versatile and will be of greater use in conditions in Kerala,” opines Unnikrishnan.

The State government has a comprehensive plan to link major towns and tourist destinations in Kerala through seaplane route.

A breathtaking view of palm-fringed coastline, tranquil stretches of emerald backwaters, lush hill stations, water falls and plantations await those boarding seaplane.

The government role is restricted to that of a facilitator and regulator. Mangalore, Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode airport have been designated as base stations for the project.

Requirements

Water-dromes with facilities such as floating jetty, passenger facilitation and security frisking, X-ray scanning machines are required for landing and take-off of the seaplanes. Houseboats have been conceived as terminal station at the landing and take-off sites with lounges for the tourists.

In Kasargod

The proposed Site at Kottapuram, in Neelashwar is situated in the backwaters of Bakel. There is an existing Boat House station on the site and is presently in use for tourists. Pawan Hans Helicopters Ltd, of the Union government, which prepared the detailed project report for the seaplane project, recommended a floating jetty here to be used for boarding/alighting the passengers.

In Ayitti, an existing building which could be converted into a terminal building, a good approach road, enough parking areas are the plus points.
Thalangara is situated 2 km from Kasaragod town and it is also the place where river Chandragiri joins the sea.

An abandoned concrete jetty, an abandoned covered building and road access are available here. KTIL sources are expecting seaplane service to commence operation in Kasargod within a month.

Operators
As of now, Bangalore based Kairali Aviation is the single operator shortlisted by the government to carry the project. Public sector operator Pavan Hans, public players such as My Wings, Meh Air and Bharat Aviation are already registered to seek permission for running seaplanes.

At present, Kairali Aviation has introduced a four seat aircraft to operate. Kerala Tourism department sources said that all attempts are being made to bring aircraft having 10 and 18 seat capacities.

Protest
Meanwhile, fisher folk in Alleppy, where seaplane service started days back are already up in arms against the project fearing that it will affect their livelihood.
CPI has also publicly come against the dream project flaying that it will make fisher folk jobless and will cause environmental pollution.

However, Kerala Tourism Minister A P Anilkumar has said that the project was launched only on an experimental basis and if it is found against the interest of fishermen, it will be withdrawn.

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