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Odisha: Centre cancels water aerodrome project in Chilika

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Bhubaneswar: After drawing flak from various quarters, the Central government finally dropped the proposed water aerodrome project at the Chilika lake in Odisha, a top official said today.

Susanta Nanda, Chief Executive of Chilika Development Authority (CDA), informed to the media, saying the Airports Authority of India (AAI) has cancelled the seaplane project in the lake which, if implemented, will negatively impact the ecosystem and the surrounding human population.

AAI Chairman Guruprasad Mohapatra has informed to Chief Secretary A. P. Padhi about the aviation body’s decision not to go with the plan. “Following a request from the state government through videoconferencing to cancel the project as it would affect Chilika’s ecology, we have cancelled the project,” he said.

The AAI has decided to shelve the project following environmentalists and the Chilika Development Authority (CDA) raised objections citing “ecological” hazards.

In the letter, Mohapatra stated that AAI wants development of the State and, therefore, if the Odisha government agrees for water aerodrome in any other locations then we will provide all the assistance.

Last week, in a letter to the State government, Nanda said seaplanes will “seriously jeopardize” the habitat of Chilika’s nearly one million avian visitors, which include 230 bird species and 97 migrants from the Arctic and Eurasian regions, the report states.

“Operation of seaplane and water aerodrome at Chilika, the world’s second largest brackish water lake, is likely to cause irrevocable damage to the ecosystem and livelihood of people dependent on it. The cost involved in the operation of seaplane seems to outweigh the benefits likely to accrue from it. Besides, legally the project is not feasible,” the CDA Chief Executive had explained.

In June, the AAI had announced to set up aerodrome projects in Odisha, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Assam. Chilika in Odisha was the preferred site. A team of experts from the Centre had visited the area and conducted a study after the civil aviation ministry had given its nod to the Chilika proposal.

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