India’s Shipping Ministry has zeroed in on 10 locations, four across Andaman and six Lakshadweep, as probable ones to ramp up infrastructure and begin sea-plane operations in the initial phase.
According to the official, the Union Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways (MoPSW) will be setting up the infrastructure across these islands which include floating navigation systems, water-aerodromes, among other requirements. Routes will be managed by private players.
The four locations in Andaman include Long Island, Neill Island and Havelock Island, apart from the existing airport at Port Blair, a senior ministry official told businessline.
Port Blair has already been declared as an authorised immigration check post for entry into or exit from India with valid travel documents for all classes of passengers. The EoI process to check interest of private players in tourism projects there has also been completed, the official said.
“So far ₹40 crore has been earmarked to set up infrastructure across three islands of Andaman. And we will use the existing airport at Port Blair. Some clearances are awaited with relation to putting in place the floating navigation system ans earmarking areas in water. Post that, civil work will start,” the official said.
In case of Lakshadweep, there are six locations that are being discussed and the EoI process is expected to be under-way soon. Three of the island names that have come up during discussion are Minicoy, Kavaratti and Agatti where sea-planes routes were cleared previously. The project reports “are being prepared” in order to start operations there. Part of the infrastructure set up there could be partners by the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) too.
Incidentally, the MoCA is already in the process of awarding sea-plane routes under the UDAN schemes. One airlines in India already has permission to carry out sea-plane operations on some of these routes that are being discussed.
The Airports Authority of India (AAI), has so far awarded 14 Water Aerodromes (sea plane routes) under UDAN, which include Sardar Sarovar Dam (Statue of Unity), Sabarmati Riverfront in Ahmedabad; Havelock Island, Neill Island, Long Island and PortBlair in Andaman & Nicobar Islands; Guwahati riverfront and Umrangso Reservoir in Assam; Nagarjuna Saga Dam in Telangana; Prakasam Barrage in Andhra Pradesh and Minicoy, Kavaratti, Agatti in Lakshadweep Islands.
Of these Water Aerodromes, SardarSarovar Dam (Statue of Unity) and Sabarmati Riverfront, Ahmedabad have been operationalized in 2020, but was discontinued during Covid.