Aviation: Sea plane dream dead in water? CDA looks to deliver killer punch
The CDI report said that the lake is a highly productive eco-system with rich fishery resources sustaining the livelihood of more than two lakh fishermen who live in and around the lake. Further, the report added that based on its rich biodiversity and socio-economic importance, Chilika lake is designated as a Ramsar Site in 1981 as wetland of international importance.
The Union Civil Aviation Ministry proposal to start a water aerodrome and sea plane operation from Chilika lake in Odisha seems to have hit a roadblock as the Chilika Development Authority (CDA) has opposed it, saying it is likely to cause irrevocable damage to the eco-system and livelihood of the population dependent on it.
According to the CDA report, "The cost involved from operation of sea plane seems far outweigh the benefits likely to accrue. Legally it is also not feasible."
This was in response to the Odisha government's query to the CDA to study the Civil Aviation Ministry's proposal for setting up a water aerodrome and sea plane operation from the lagoon, said a PTI report.
The CDI reportedly said that the lake is a highly productive eco-system with rich fishery resources sustaining the livelihood of more than two lakh fishermen who live in and around the lake. Further, the report added that based on its rich biodiversity and socio-economic importance, Chilika lake is designated as a Ramsar Site in 1981 as wetland of international importance.
Notably, Chilika Lake preserves 335 species of fish, 230 species of birds and 399 phytoplanktons, 729 plants, and 30 reptiles, making it a unique aquatic eco-system in the world.
Further, it reportedly highlighted that bird congregation during winter season is nearly one million and almost the entire area of the lake is used by birds as habitat, particularly the shallow regions of the wetland. Besides, the Lake houses 230 bird species out of which 97 are from the Arctic and Eurasian region, and most common among them are the ducks and geese along with 9 threatened bird species.
Citing that the birds migrate along the central Asian flyway as depicted in the map, The CDA further added, "With sea planes playing in the region, these migratory paths and their habitat inside the Lake are going to be seriously jeopardised from the movement and sound that the sea plane is likely to generate."
Although exact area and location of the water aerodrome has not been shared with the CDA, the report said operation of sea plane at any location of the lake may have serious and far reaching consequences on its eco-system, PTI report added.
The CDA reportedly said, "This is turn, will affect directly the livelihood of fishermen of 151 villages around Chilika in the three districts of Khurda, Puri and Ganjam."
For tourists, the most fascinating feature of Chilika is its avifauna which might be lost for ever if the sea plane is allowed to ply in the lake, the CDA report said, adding that Irrawaddy dolphin is the flagship species inhabiting the lake.
Notably, the Chilkia lake is one of the two known lagoons in the world that supports Irrawaddy dolphin population, besides having the largest population of the threatened species in the world.
The entire tourism in Satapada and central sector of the Lake is dependent on the endangered 157 dolphins, now seen in all parts, the CDA it said, adding "The dolphins are highly sensitive to the sound and their breeding suffers due to high decibel sound around their habitat."
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The impact of sea plane landing and take off will reportedly endanger these species, breeding of fish, besides sounding the death knell for the tourism industry and the livelihood of nearly 5000 families dependent on tourism.