Sunday, January 06, 2013

Seaplane connection to Munnar faces obstacles

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The seaplane project might have to drop one location from its priority circuit as an 11kV power line runs across the Mattupetty dam in Munnar. The Kerala Tourism Infrastructure Limited has requested power distributor M/s Tata Tea Ltd to decommission the line and locate it elsewhere.

"We received communication from the government asking if we could relocate the power line as it is a hindrance to the landing and take-off of the seaplane. It crosses a side of the dam near the Echo Point.

Electrical lines are usually drawn from the shortest distance. So the economics of the new location need to be studied. We have asked our engineers to work on the request. However, we have only received a letter, no official from the local KSEB office has visited us yet. The power lines supply electricity to Kerala Livestock Development Board, so it needs proper study," said C Sreekumar, PRO, Tata Tea.

Munnar's climate is also a matter of concern, "Operators are likely to opt for a single engine aircraft. They have to take a call on operating in Munnar's foggy climate," said a source from the tourism department.

The project is on track at the other five locations, such as Astamudi, Punnamada, Kumarakon, Bolgatty and Bekal. According to sources, five seaplane operators have shown interest to avail the early bird incentive which ends on January 31.

The KTIL is going ahead with the fabrication of the floating boat jetty at five locations. However, the one at Bolgatty is likely to be located around 24 nautical mile north of KTDC's Bolgatty Palace so as to avoid the Cochin Port Trust's shipping channel. Also, it has been decided that the passengers would be transferred via speed boat (owned or rented by seaplane/hotel operators) to a houseboat which will be berthed alongside the floating jetty, which will act as a holding and final frisking area. The seaplane operators are likely to be invited to conduct test flights before mid-2013.


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