India’s first seaplane service in Gujarat.

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India’s first seaplane service in Gujarat, is set to start from 31st October 2020, the birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, with the aim of providing air connectivity between the Sabarmati Riverfront in Ahmedabad and the Statue of Unity in Kevadia. The seaplane will be operated by SpiceJet.

It is a 19-seater seaplane, which will be able to accommodate 14 passengers. In the next phase, Dharoi dam (Mehsana district) will connect Ambaji and Shatrunjay dam (Bhavnagar district) and Tapi district.

A seaplane is a fixed-wing aeroplane designed for taking off and landing on water. A flying boat is a fixed-winged seaplane with a hull, allowing it to land on water, that usually has no type of landing gear to allow operation on land. It differs from a floatplane as it uses a purpose-designed fuselage which can float, granting the aircraft buoyancy. A floatplane is supported on the water by pontoons, called floats.

As per the direction of the Centre, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) requested state governments of Gujarat, Assam, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana and the administration of Andaman & Nicobar to propose potential locations for setting up water airports to boost the tourism sector.

The Centre approved flights from six water airports that include Shatrunjay Dam (Gujarat), Guwahati riverfront and Umrangso reservoir (Assam) and Nagarjuna Sagar (Andhra Pradesh), under the third round of Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik (UDAN) scheme.

The routes awarded for seaplane operations includeSabarmati riverfront to Statue of Unity and Shatrunjay Dam; Guwahati riverfront to Umrango reservoir, Jorhat and Shillong (Meghalaya) and Nagarjuna Sagar to Vijayawada and Hyderabad (Telangana). Agatti, Kavaratti and Minicoy islands of Lakshadweep have also been proposed to be connected through the seaplane project under the fourth round of UDAN scheme.

Experts are of the opinion that the activities proposed under the water airport project may have a similar type of impact as that of an airport. However, the water airport is not a listed project/activity in the Schedule to the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification, 2006 nor in EIA draft 2020. During seaplane operations, there will be turbulence created in the water while takeoff and landing of seaplanes. This will lead to mixing of oxygen in the water, which will have a positive impact on the aquatic ecosystem near seaplane operations increasing oxygen content and decreasing carbon content in this system.