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Red tape pulls down NRI-backed submarine project

The backers in Britain are getting restless and are even thinking of calling off the submarine tourism project.

india Updated: Sep 21, 2005 11:43 IST

Red tape is tying down a unique submarine tourism project that seems to have run aground with the central government still to give its clearance to a Kerala-based firm.

The plan's non-resident Indian (NRI) backers in Britain are getting restless and are even thinking of calling off the venture and heading towards Mauritius and South Africa, said K. Bhaskaran, CEO of the Kochi-based Pioneer Underwater Tours.

"It has been three months since we submitted all the papers to the union ministry of shipping for getting a licence to operate. Despite a reminder to them, we are yet to hear from them," Bhaskaran told IANS.

The state's coastal shipping inland navigation department is also a partner in the project.

The first of its kind venture in the country, the submarine would be coming from Britain. "It can go underwater to a depth of 100 metres and can carry 24 people and two crew members. The total cost of this vessel is Rs.120 million," he disclosed.

The plan is to run the submarine during the day as well as after sunset. Each trip on the vessel, equipped with state of the art safety devices, would take around three hours.

According to Bhaskaran, a veteran mariner who was in Britain for several years, the project cost is being met by NRIs in the country.

"They are also getting restless. If this is going to be indefinitely delayed, we might even call off this venture here and would head to Mauritius or South Africa, where similar ventures exist," he added.

"I am not sure how long we can wait for the sanction. Time is running out."

First Published: Sep 21, 2005 11:43 IST