Goa heli-tourism project put on hold after protests

Panaji, Feb 3 (IANS) The Goa government on Wednesday put its much touted heli-tourism project on hold, following a series of protests by legislators from both the opposition and the ruling alliance.

Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar told reporters that three new areas would be identified for setting up of helipads for tourism purposes.
“We have put it on hold for now. We have informed Pawan Hans about this. We would be looking for three additional sites for setting up helipads in North Goa. The heli-tourism service will resume then,” Parsekar said.
Earlier on Wednesday, Congress legislator Agnelo Fernandes, along with his supporters, was detained for protesting at the helipad located on the Aguada plateau, 20 km from Panaji, where the heli-tourism service was scheduled to take off.
Aguada plateau, which overlooks the picturesque Sinquerim beach and the Arabian Sea, is a biodiversity hotspot and also home to a state heritage monument.
Fernandes said helicopter movement and tourism infrastructure “will ruin the place forever”.
Heli-tourism is one of the newer initiatives of the Goa tourism department.
Known for its beach tourism and night life, the authorities in Goa are keen to provide a more diverse bouquet of experiences for the more than four million tourists who visit the state every year.
The heli-tourism sorties, which were announced in partnership with Pawan Hans, a central government-run helicopter services company, however, hit rough weather even before it started on Tuesday. Both the opposition as well as Bharatiya Janata Party legislator Michael Lobo strongly opposed the project.