Sahara fallout: India's first seaplane service launch put off
With Sahara India chief Subrata Roy behind bars, the country's first seaplane service from the megapolis to Aamby Valley City, which is run by the Sahara group, was today grounded for the time being.
The decision came after the Sahara group requested the operator Mehair to delay the launch following the arrest of Roy, who is now in Delhi's Tihar Jail after he failed to follow the Supreme Court's order to pay up Rs 24,000 crore to market watchdog Sebi.
"We have received a communication from Aamby Valley officials to delay the commercial launch due to the recent developments," Maritime Energy Heli Air Services or Mehair co-founder and director Siddharth Verma told PTI here today.
The Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation had roped in Mehair to launch the country's first seaplane service between Mumbai and Aamby Valley near Lonavala, about 120 km from here. Accrodingly, the company had tied up with Aamby Valley for the service.
A statement on Mehair's website said, "This sector is currently not being opened based on a request from Aamby Valley City (AMC). Patrons are requested to contact Aamby Valley for further information. The services will begin as and when the AMC gives the go ahead." Meanwhile, the city-based company plans to commence its services to Mula Dam in Shirdi in Ahmednagar district and Pawana Dam in Pune from March 26.
"We will now start the services on the Mula and Pawana Dams sector from March 26. Online bookings for the same are open from today," he said, adding, "we are awaiting certain regulatory clearances to launch the services. We expect these clearances in the next two-three days." Mehair has deployed a four-seater Cessna 206 amphibian to operate these services and has offered an introductory fare of Rs 4,000-4,500 on Mumbai-Ambay Valley.
The company has been operating similar services in the Andamans since January 2011, providing inter-island connectivity.
It also could not launch its operations in Kerala following objections from fishermen community.
In the first phase, the company has planned to launch services to Aamby Valley, Gangapur Dam in Nashik, Mula Dam in Shirdi, Pawna dam in Lonavala, Varasgaon Dam in Lavasa (Pune district) and Dhoom Dam in Mahabaleshwar (Satara district).
In the second phase of expansion, seaplane operations will be rolled out in tourist hotspots in the Konkan region like Ganpatipule, Harihareshwar, Tarkarli and Murud Janjira, Verma said.
Mehair plans to induct one more plane, a 19-seater, in April, taking its fleet size to three, he said.