The proposed water aerodrome and sea plane operation in Odisha’s Chilika lagoon is likely to cause irrevocable damage to the eco-system and livelihood of the population dependent on it, the Chilika Development Authority (CDA) has said.
“The cost involved from operation of sea plane seems far outweigh the benefits likely to accrue. Legally it is also not feasible,” the CDA said in a report to the state government.
The CDA was asked by the Odisha government to study the Union Civil Aviation Ministry proposal for setting up a water aerodrome and sea plane operation from the lagoon.
The CDA report said operation of sea plane at any location of the lake may have serious and far reaching consequences on the eco-system of the lake.
“This is turn, will affect directly the livelihood of fishermen of 151 villages around Chilika in the three districts of Khurda, Puri and Ganjam,” the report said.
Chilika lake is listed as a Ramsar Site in 1981 as wetland of international importance. It 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, the report stated.
Chilika Lake – a unique aquatic ecosystem in the world:
- The lake has 335 species of fish, 230 species of birds, 399 phytoplanktons, 729 plants and 30 reptiles.
- The 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
- The Lake houses 230 bird species out of which 97 are from the Arctic and Eurasian region.
- The most common bird species are the ducks and geese along with nine threatened bird species.
- The birds migrate along the central Asian flyway as depicted in the map.
- The Chilika lake is one of the two known lagoons in the world that supports Irrawaddy dolphin population.
- Chilika has the distinction of having the largest population of the threatened Irrawaddy dolphin 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 report said.
“The dolphins are highly sensitive to the sound and their breeding suffers due to high decibel sound around their habitat,” it said.
The impact of sea plane landing and take-off will endanger the population of this flagship species, breeding of fish and sound the death knell for the tourism industry and affect the livelihood of nearly 5,000 families dependent on tourism, the report also said.
“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,” the report said.
The legal provisions under the Wetland Conservation and Management Rule, 2017 applicable to this Ramsar site, vide Section 4(2) prohibits conversion for non-wetland uses. Construction of aerodrome is therefore prohibited under the said rules.
Section 8.3 of operation and air-worthiness requirements for sea plane operation issued by office of the Director General of Civil Aviation, Government of India vide its letter dated June 17, 2008 stipulates that floating platform will not be selected in the fishing ground and bird hazards will be taken into consideration.