The BJD has opposed the Centre’s project to set up a water aerodrome in Odisha’s Chilika Lake, claiming that it would directly affect two lakh fishermen families and the biodiversity of Asia’s largest saltwater lake. With an eye on boosting tourism and creating jobs, the Union Civil Aviation Ministry on August 11 approved a pilot proposal to set up at least five water aerodromes — an area of open water used for landing seaplanes and amphibious aircraft — across the country. Such aircraft are expected to take people across water faster and more safely than local boats.
Apart from Chilika, Gujarat’s Sardar Sarovar Dam and Sabarmati River Front have been cleared for the project in the first phase. Andhra Pradesh, Assam and Maharashtra may also get water aerodromes, Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu said. Referring to the host of restrictions that will be put in place for aerodrome’s security, Bramhagiri’s BJD MLA Sanjay Das Burma on Tuesday said, “About two lakh fishermen families (in Chilika) will be directly affected…”
Odisha’s Minister for Revenue and Disaster Management Maheswar Mohanty also claimed the project would pose a threat to the ecosystem. Union Minister and BJP leader Dharmendra Pradhan countered the BJD opposition saying that the project would generate more employment opportunities.
In a major embarrassment to the party, MLA Dilip Ray expressed doubts. “When noise pollution generated by thousands of mechanised boats operating in the region has already taken a toll on the endangered Irrawaddy dolphins, the flagship species of Chilika lagoon, the introduction of amphibious aircraft will further worsen the situation,” Ray wrote on his Facebook page.