Non-starter seaplane project draining Kerala exchequer

Reply to RTI query finds that Rs 13.7 crore has been spent so far till March 31, 2016 on the project

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Kerala’s seaplane project remains a non-starter even nearly four years after its much-hyped launch in 2013 June 2. But it continues to eat into the state’s finances. According to a reply given by the Kerala Tourism Infrastructure Limited to an RTI query, it had spent a total amount of Rs 13,75,50,111 on the project till March 31, 2016. Earlier the KTIL had informed in reply to another RTI query that Rs 10,11,72,641 was spent on the project till October 31, 2014. Hence Rs 3.63 crore was spent on the project during the 17 months between October 31, 2014, and March 31, 2016.

Sources said recurring expenses were on maintaining the facilities like water-dromes and security. On an average, about Rs 20 lakh was being wasted on this
project from the state exchequer owing to the government’s indecision. Moreover, infrastructure like water-dromes and allied security equipment set up spending Rs 6.02 crore, were reportedly rusting. Meanwhile, tourism minister Kadakampally Surendran said the government would soon review the project.

“We have to see whether it is practical or now. A review of the project would be done soon to plug the wasteful spending,” he told Deccan Chronicle. Though efforts were earlier initiated to revive the project, it did not yield any result as a major section of fishers are still opposed, raising concerns that it would affect their livelihood. Though the government constituted an expert committee and even made alterations in the locations of water-dromes in Ashtamudi and Vembanad lakes to allay their fears, the government could not take them into confidence. The KTIL maintains that the regular commercial operations of seaplanes need to be conducted by private operators as per open sky policy.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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