The arrest of Sahara India chief Subrata Roy has led to the postponement of seaplane service to Aamby Valley from Juhu airport which was scheduled to start from Monday. However, the services to other destinations, including Mula and Pawana dam, are expected to start as per schedule on March 26.
Sources said that the service to Ambey valley was called off after Aamby Valley, which is owned by the Sahara India Parivar group, asked Mehair— the seaplane service operator — to postpone it in view of the arrest of their boss.
A Mehair official confirmed the development and said it was the Aamby Valley administration's call against not starting the service now.
Roy, who is referred as Saharashri among his employees, was arrested on orders of the Supreme Court after he failed to deposit about Rs23,000 crore to market regulator SEBI. The allegation against Roy is that some of his companies collected money from the general public against the prevailing laws of the country. The charges have been denied by Roy claiming that SEBI is targeting his companies.
State-run Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) had roped in Mehair to connect several tourism destinations in the state through seaplanes, in order to promote tourism. Similar services are already in place in the Andamans.
However, the project got delayed for over a year and a half due to requirement of permissions from several authorities and departments, including Ministry of Defence (MoD) for a water aerodrome in Girgaum Chowpatty, which according to state government insiders was not quite easy, as it is near the Western Naval command.
The project was finally inaugurated on February 24 and the first flight for the public was to start on March 10.
The seaplane, also called amphibian plane, are aircraft with fixed wings. They are capable of landing and taking off from land as well from water surface. Maharashtra, which boasts of a large stretch of sea, dams and lakes, has a great potential for operation of seaplanes, feel experts.
Seaplanes are very popular in tourist destinations like Dubai, Maldives and Scotland, apart from various other parts of the world. According to tourism industry experts, the popularity of a sea plane is that it helps in connecting those parts of tourist destinations which are difficult to access. They also provides for quick sight-seeing.