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Goa govt conducts seaplane trials despite protests by fishermen

In a bid to boost tourism to the State, the Goan government has gone ahead with seaplane trials, despite protests by fishing communities who fear their way of life will be destroyed.
PTI | By HT Correspondent, Goa
UPDATED ON MAY 23, 2015 04:23 PM IST

The Goa government conducted trial seaplane landings on the Mandovi river in the heart of the state, amid protests by its fishermen communities. The trials are part of a new initiative to boost tourism to the State, but face stiff opposition from the traditional fishing communities who depend on the river for their livelihoods.

"We have been opposing this project. The Government wants to attract tourists at the cost of our occupations," said Agnelo Rodrigues, Goenchya Ramponkarancho Ekvott President. Rodrigues stated that the fishermen would commit suicide in protest if the government did not scrap their proposed tourism initiative.

Despite the ultimatum, the Goa Tourism minister Dilip Parulekar approved the first flight from Dabolim airport, which successfully landed in the Mandovi at 11.45 AM. The Goa State Tourism had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Maritime Energy Heli AIR Services Pvt. Ltd. (MEHAIR) to launch the seaplane service in Goa. The state will be the second after Maharashtra to have the service.

Parulekar said that the fishermen's fears were unfounded, as their livelihoods would not be affected by the seaplane service."The Government is completely aware of the traditional fishing communities. The seaplane service will attract a large number of high-end tourists,which will boost our economy," said the minister.

State Tourism Director Amey Abhyankar said that several routes would be identified for the plane in consultation with the Fisheries Department, Captain of Ports and Goa Coastal Police to ensure that the marine eco-system, fishing activities, inland water transportation and water sport operations would not be affected.

"The aircraft service would start post monsoon," confirmed Siddharth Verma, Co-founder, MEHAIR. He said that questions about the impact of this service on the flora and fauna were unwarranted. "It comes and goes very quickly so there is no question of impact," he said, adding that the planes were far more eco-friendly than ships.

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