Seaplane Service From Statue Of Unity To Ahmedabad Was Operational For 80 Days, Terminated In April 2023: Gujarat Aviation Minister

Seaplane Service From Statue Of Unity To Ahmedabad Was Operational For 80 Days, Terminated In April 2023: Gujarat Aviation Minister

This was informed by Gujarat Civil Aviation Minister Balwantsinh Rajput during the budget session for the fiscal 2024-25 in Gujarat Assembly

Melvyn ThomasUpdated: Wednesday, February 14, 2024, 12:13 PM IST
article-image
REPRESENTATIVE IMAGE |

The seaplane services between Ahmedabad and the Statue of Unity (SoU) at Kevadia, which was the pet project of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was operational for just 80 days and the services were terminated in April-2023. This was informed by Gujarat Civil Aviation Minister Balwantsinh Rajput during the budget session for the fiscal 2024-25 in Gujarat Assembly.

Just before the 2017 Gujarat state assembly elections, PM Modi flew from the Sabarmati riverside to the Dharoi dam in Mehsana in a seaplane to impress potential voters. This was an unofficial start of seaplane services in Gujarat and India. The opposition Congress slammed the PM's plan, calling it a gimmick. The PM later formally inaugurated the Seaplane services on October 31, 2020, the 145th birth anniversary of  Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, by travelling from Kevadia, where the Statue of Unity (SoU) is situated, to Ahmedabad's Sabarmati Riverfront.

Intention to enhance tourism in Kevadia

The much-touted services were intended to enhance tourism in Kevadia, home to Vallabhbhai Patel's highest statute in the world. At the same time, it was intended to reduce the travel time between Kevadia and Ahmedabad (about 200 km) to 40–45 minutes. However, the services were terminated in April 2021, when SpiceShuttle (a SpiceJet subsidiary) dropped out owing to operational issues caused by the Covid-19 outbreak. Ticket rates were limited to ₹5,000 for one-way travel. Services have been deducted since then.

"The Seaplane services were operational for two months and in maintenance for the remaining period," said the legislator from Khedbrahma, Tushar Chaudhari of the Congress. During the question hour, the Civil Aviation minister was asked how much of the budget allocation of ₹22 crores in the last two years was spent on the services and whether they were operational or not. In his written response, Rajput said that owing to the corona pendemic in 2021-22 and un-operational services in 2022-23, a sum of ₹4,49,74,451 remained unspent. He further said that the services were not working.

Concern over use of outdated jet

During the aircraft debates, Arjun Modhwadia, a Porbandar MP from Congress, expressed worry over the PM's use of such an outdated jet, claiming it was 50 years old. This incensed the Minister of State (MoS) for Home, Harsh Sanghvi, who got up to remark, "The performance of the aircraft is determined not by how old the plane is, but by how much its engine is used. So, cease spreading falsehoods on the aircraft aged 50, and so on."

Shailesh Parmar, a Congress lawmaker from Danilimda, said, "The aircraft brought in for the PM was not suitable for the PM's travel since it was a single engine plane. The acquisition of this jet was also unnecessary since, according to the MoS and after calculating the engine hours, it was not a wise investment." Parmar continued, "The services have been inoperable since April 2021. Why isn't the government initiating it, given that it claims to provide an excellent service? What are the reasons for not launching it, and will the government purchase a new jet or continue using the existing one?

Services to begin at 4 locations

In response, the Civil Aviation Minister said, "It is incorrect to claim that seaplane services are a failure. The Seaplane has been operating for 80 days, making 276 flights and serving 2,192 people. So there is no indication that its services have been suspended. I reaffirm that we will begin these services at four locations: the Sabarmati riverbank, the Statue of Unity (SoU) in Kevadiya, the Shetrunjay dam, and the Dharoi dam."

RECENT STORIES

'Wishing For More Such Enchanting Victories..,' WB CM Mamata Banerjee Congratulates KKR For Winning...

'Wishing For More Such Enchanting Victories..,' WB CM Mamata Banerjee Congratulates KKR For Winning...

Cyclone Remal Intensifies, Set To Make Landfall With Wind Speed Upto 135 Kmph; PM Modi Chairs...

Cyclone Remal Intensifies, Set To Make Landfall With Wind Speed Upto 135 Kmph; PM Modi Chairs...

VIDEO: Speeding AUDI Luxury Car Kills Elderly Man Who Went To Buy Milk In Noida, Days After Pune...

VIDEO: Speeding AUDI Luxury Car Kills Elderly Man Who Went To Buy Milk In Noida, Days After Pune...

'Narendra Modi Should Become CM Again': Nitish Kumar Goofs Up During Election Rally In Bihar (VIDEO)

'Narendra Modi Should Become CM Again': Nitish Kumar Goofs Up During Election Rally In Bihar (VIDEO)

Shameful! Liquor Truck Collides With Tree, People Loot Bottles Without Helping Injured In UP's...

Shameful! Liquor Truck Collides With Tree, People Loot Bottles Without Helping Injured In UP's...