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Two ministries of central government have signed a pact to start seaplane services across India. Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Ministry of Civil Aviation for this project in the presence of their respective ministers Mansukh Mandaviya and Hardeep Singh Puri on Tuesday.

This MoU envisages developing non-scheduled and scheduled operation of seaplane services within territorial jurisdiction of India. Under this agreement, seaplane services will be developed as a part of the RCN-UDAN initiative of the Civil Aviation Ministry.

Civil Aviation Ministry, Shipping Ministry and Sagarmala Development Company Limited (SDCL) will consider operationalising seaplane operating routes as identified by various agencies. A co-ordination committee comprising officials of Ministry of Civil Aviation, Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways and Ministry of Tourism will be set up for timely rollout of seaplane services at various locations, a joint statement by the two ministries said.

Shipping Ministry would identify and develop waterfront aerodromes and other required infrastructure, as well as obtain required statutory approvals in coordination with Civil Aviation Ministry, Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and Airports Authority of India (AAI) by defining the timelines for all activities involved in the development of facilities for starting seaplanes operations.

Civil Aviation will select potential airlines operators based on their commercial consideration through bidding process. It will also incorporate the location and routes as identified by Shipping Ministry and routes identified through bidding process in UDAN scheme document.

This ministry is also obligated to funds water aerodromes awarded under RCS-UDAN scheme, as well as coordinate with chief secretaries of all states for the seaplanes operations.

"This MoU between the two ministries will help in expediting the development of new water aerodromes and also operationalisation of new seaplane routes in India. This will give a big fillip to the provision of a new kind of tourism service in India," said Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri.

A total of 28 seaplane routes and 14 water aerodromes in Gujarat, Assam, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Andaman and Nicobar islands and Lakshadweep are in various stages of development at a cost of 450 crore, Puri further said.

"Signing of the MoU will be a game changer both for Indian maritime and civil aviation sector as it will not only enhance seamless connectivity across the nation by promoting eco-friendly transportation through seaplanes but also give a boost to the tourism industry," said Shipping Minister Mansukh Mandaviya.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on October 31 last year inaugurated SpiceJet's seaplane service between the Statue of Unity near Kevadiya in Gujarat's Narmada district and Sabarmati riverfront in Ahmedabad. However, this seaplane service has not been operational for the last two months due to Covid-19.

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