Kollam: Kerala Seaplane, the commercial seaplane service under the aegis of Kerala Tourism Infrastructure Limited, is drawing flak for draining money for the past five years. The project implemented to ensure last-mile-connectivity to tourists traveling to Kerala’s backwater destinations from major airports of the state has been nonfunctional since its inauguration in June 2013.
Soon after the launch by then chief minister Oommen Chandy, the project came to a grinding halt following protests from the fishermen community citing damage to inland fishing and marine life.
The seaplane project was launched at Ashramam in Kollam district. Besides Ashtamudi, the seaplane had operation centers at popular backwater tourism destinations like Punnamada in Alappuzha district, Kumarakom in Kottayam and Bekal in Kasargod district.
Most of the police personnel posted on security at all four stations have taken transfers to other stations due to lack of job. The project had around 40 other staff, some of them with aviation degrees. As the project came to a halt, those without the degrees were removed from service. The Kerala Tourism Infrastructure spent close to Rs 12 lakh as monthly salary for the security officers.
The state government spent close to Rs 13.57 crore for developing infrastructure for seaplane service after getting clearance from the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security and Directorate General of Civil Aviation.
The waterdromes with floating jetties have fallen into absolute ruin. The rented houseboat and two additional boats purchased for Rs 50 lakh are rusting away. The houseboat is still anchored near the Tamarind KTDC Easy hotel. Only five police personnel including a sub-inspector remain on security duty.
The Cessna 206 H six-seater amphibian aircraft brought for commuting operations by Bangalore-based Kairali Aviation was flown to Mumbai after remaining grounded for months at the Cochin International airport at Nedumbassery and incurring losses for the operator. The airports at Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, Kozhikode and Mangalore were to be used as base stations for fueling and maintenance of the aircraft.
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