Bhubaneswar: Landing and takeoff of seaplanes which are also known as amphibian aircraft may soon become a reality in Chilika, Asia’s largest brackish water lagoon, with estuarine character that sprawls along the east coast.
A special team comprising senior officials of Airports Authority of India (AAI), no-frills carrier SpiceJet, India Meteorological Department (IMD)’s Bhubaneswar Centre, Chilika Development Authority (CDA) and State government’s Water Resources department has recently conducted a preliminary survey for a water aerodrome in Chilika taking into account various aspects.
The team led by AAI’s General Manager (Architect) Sangeeta Mahay conducted a feasibility study for a water aerodrome in Chilika on June 14 and 15.
“An expert team comprising of officials from Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), AAI and SpiceJet had visited last week on 14th and 15th.They have conducted a survey. The report is under preparation. They are yet to submit their report. It will be clear only after the report is available. Preparation of the report requires several technical inputs like wind direction, depth of the sea bed, environment related issues etc. It’s under preparation after its ready they will let me know,” informed Suresh Chandra Hota, Director, Biju Patnaik International Airport (BPIA).
However, a senior official of the CDA said that such a project would require a lot of clearances since Chilika is a Ramsar site. (A Ramsar site is a wetland site designated of international importance under the Ramsar Convention. The Convention on Wetlands, known as the Ramsar Convention, is an intergovernmental environmental treaty established in 1971 by UNESCO, and coming into force in 1975.)
“Chilika is a Ramsar site. For undertaking any activity or project here, several clearances have to be obtained like from the Environment Ministry since Chilika comes under Coastal Regulatory Zone (CRZ). For undertaking any project these have to be complied with. They have conducted a preliminary survey. See on the Satapada side we have dolphins. It is an eco-sensitive zone, so allowing anything on that side will be difficult. For operation of seaplanes depth is required. If they find the project feasible without disturbing our ecosystem and get the necessary clearances then only it will be possible,” said Sasmita Lenka, Additional Chief Executive of CDA.
The move has been welcomed by Tourism Minister Ashok Kumar Panda since it would boost tourism.
“Such a proposal is definitely welcome. I am hopeful that it will certainly attract more tourists,” said Panda.