US-style SeaWorld out of Sindhudurg? Govt to invite bids for alternative sitesUpdated: Jan 21, 2020 00:03 IST
An ambitious water theme park, modelled on SeaWorld in the United States and which was first proposed in 2009, may not come up in Sindhudurg district. The state tourism department, in February, is planning to invite an expression of interest (EoI) from private players to choose an alternative location in Maharashtra.
The project that was proposed on a 350-acre plot in Sindhudurg district faced land acquisition hurdles and was as good as shelved, officials said.
Tourism department officials said the new approach has been forced as locals at the proposed site were not willing to part with the land despite scaling down the area from 1,390 to 350 acres.
When asked about his department’s plan on a fresh location, state tourism minister Aaditya Thackeray confirmed the move and said, “Yes, but it is not yet fully finalised.”
“The project required lot of foreign direct investment. Rather than deciding a location, which was like putting the cart before the horse, we are now planning to invite private players to choose a location,” said a senior tourism department official.
“The government will then check land availability at the preferred location and take the project forward,” he added.
The multi-crore project was to come up in the villages of Tondavali and Vayangani in the Konkan region—about 470km from Mumbai. The project was proposed by the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) government in 2009, and it was the pet project of former Congress leader Narayan Rane, who hails from the district. It was envisaged as a water-theme amusement park with an oceanarium, tourist resorts and underwater tunnels exhibiting marine life. The former Congress-NCP government had also prepared a feasibility report for the project.
The previous Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led state government, which scaled down the project, tried to win over locals by hiking the compensation to landowners up to 3.75 times the existing rates. However, it failed to acquire land and subsequently put the project in cold storage in 2018. Rane, who holds sway in the region, is now with the BJP, while his son, Nilesh is the local MLA from Kankavali. The Ranes are unlikely to back the project in the region to avoid the credit of the project to go with the Shiv Sena-led Maharashtra Vikas Agahdi government.
The new state government led by the Sena is keen on reviving the project as it would boost tourism and help generate employment in the state.