Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari has unveiled an ambitious plan to introduce a large number of seaplanes to put to use nation’s vast water resources. The plan, if implemented, could alter the fate of travel and tourism – especially cruise tourism in rivers and high seas across the country.
A few days ago, the minister has asked his counterpart, Ashok Gajapati Raju, Union Minister of Civil Aviation, to chalk out a regulatory regime for single-engine sea planes in a bid to introduce the service in the country at the earliest. “Seaplanes, cruises, waterways, electric vehicles, pod taxis, catamarans, expressways” or the mammoth Rs 16 lakh crore Sagarmala and Rs 7 lakh crore Bharatmala initiatives will change the face of India’s infrastructure, he stated, referring to recently undertaken policy initiatives by the government.
Advocating swift introduction of sea planes, he said “I have been talking about seaplanes. If it starts, in India we have the potential of starting 10,000 seaplanes. We have 3 to 4 lakh ponds in India, plenty of dams, 2,000 river ports, 200 small ports and 12 major ports. It will cost less,” the minister said to the media. He said that seaplanes could land in one-foot (of) water and required only 300 metres of runway. “It has a huge potential and runs at a speed of 400 km per hour. Our ministry and the aviation ministry will finalise its rules and regulations soon. There are different rules in America, Canada, Japan. We will study their laws in three months,” Gadkari said.
Incidentally, SpiceJet has already placed an order for 100 amphibious aircraft at a cost upwards of 400 million USD, suggesting a major foray in the coming days.
Also, cruise tourism has gained immense in the top echelons of policy makers, with the government already in progress of drafting a liberal and forward-looking cruise tourism policy. The idea being to tap lucrative markets in the vicinity in the Asian continent and, consequently, the world over. Nitin Gadkari’s statement comes as sweet music for the industry which has been long advocating for liberal policies and availability of requisite infrastructure.