PM to launch Statue of Unity seaplane service on Oct 31

PM Modi likely to launch series of facilities including seaplane service on October 31 at Statue of Unity

The service will be operated by SpiceJet with an aircraft that is about 50 years old

PM Modi. Credit: PTI Photo

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is landing at Kevadia, the seat of Statue of Unity (SoU), on Friday is said to be launching a series of facilities for tourists besides the much-publicised seaplane service connecting Kevadia to Sabarmati Riverfront in Ahmedabad. The seaplane service is said to be first of its kind in the country which will be flagged off by Modi on October 31 on the occasion of birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.

According to a tentative list of events seen by DH, PM Modi will be inaugurating Jungle Safari claimed to have been built at record speed and the "world's larget geodesic dome aviary," Ekta Mall, world's first technology-driven children nutrition park and mirror maze, dynamic dam lighting, a Statue of Unity website in UN languages, a Kevadia mobile app, a cactus garden and Ekta Nursery. When contacted Additional Chief Secretary, forest and environment, told DH that "These events are being planned but no confirmation has come as yet."

"These are the tentitive plans but preparations are on. There will be over 8,000 policemen guarding Kevadia colony and the cirucuit house will all the events have been planned. Besides, at least 2000 policemen will be deployed for securing the Sabarmati Riverfront in Ahmedabad. There may be some last minutes in the event,"(sic) said a top police officer involved in the preparation.

Sources said that PM Modi will be arriving at Kevadia on Friday afternoon and participate in various functions including 'Ekta Divas Parade" till Saturday afternoon to mark the birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. Modi is expected to interact with IAS officers under probation on October 31. By evening, he will be flagging off the seaplane. He will fly in the same seaplane to Ahmedabad and return to Delhi from there.

The seaplane is said to be about 50 years old. When asked if the aircraft is safe for travelling, state minister of civil aviation Bhupendrasinh Chudasama told DH, "The aircraft is old but we have checked all aspect of its flying capacity and it is 100% safe. Experts from Delhi and Mumbai also came and checked everything before giving permission to fly."

SpiceJet is launching the service between SoU and Ahmedabad. The state government in a release stated that the seaplane "Twin Otter 300" (8Q-ISC) has a seating capacity of 19 passengers. The flight will make four round trips between these the two stops with ticket prices expected to be Rs 4,800 per person. The distance of nearly 200 km will be covered in less than an hour.

When asked about the safety of the aircraft, which is said to have been manufactured in 1971, SpiceJet responded to DH, stating, "The seaplane chosen by SpiceJet is one of the safest and most widely used aircraft the world over and in the Maldives. The aircraft has been serviced at regular intervals and is in top class condition... The aircraft has undergone regular maintenance, overhauling and seat refurbishment and has a valid Airworthiness Review Certificate (ARC). All the required SoPs to operate these flights are in-line with operational guidance of seaplane operations."