Russian and Japanese firms have evinced interests in supplying amphibious planes to India which also include 50 seater such planes, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said today.
In line with the government plans to convert 111 rivers into national waterways in the country, Gadkari said, proposals are being examined for introducing seaplanes at Yamuna, Ganga and other waterbodies.
"India has a huge potential in seaplanes that can overhaul connectivity... A Russian firm has approached us for supplying 50 seater amphibious planes which have multiple uses right from passenger and cargo transportation to fire fighting, rescue and defence operations," the transport and water resources minister told PTI.
He said the proposal is being looked into as the firm is also keen for indigenisation of the planes in the long run with suitable partners here.
Gadkari, however, made it clear that the proposal is at an early stage and involved multiple issues right from various regulatory permissions, route assessments, creation of hydro ports on the pattern of airports and seaports.
The minister said that similarly a Japanese firm has also evinced interest in such projects and a trial show could be held in November-end at Varanasi.
Once the projects are approved, Gadkari said, they can be taken at a large scale across the country as India has a huge potential in this sector and it will change the face of the tourism sector as well as communication.
"Every city in India has large waterbodies which could easily serve the seaplanes. Besides, we are introducing amphibious buses and recently have sent one such bus to Ahmedabad," the minister said.
Earlier this month, SpiceJet announced plans to purchase more than 100 amphibious planes at an estimated cost of $400 million to boost regional operations.
SpiceJet has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Japan's Setouchi Holdings with regard to purchase of the up to 14-seater amphibious aircraft.
Also, UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Naagrik) project of the government seeks to provide air connectivity to unserved and under-served airports as well as make flying more affordable.
The government has already urged global investors to tap the potential of seaplanes in the country.
Promising early approvals for such projects, Gadkari had said this is an era of innovation which could change the face of the country.
The minister had also said, "We want to encourage seaplanes. A small nation like Maldives has a fleet of 47 seaplanes but India despite vast potential has none. I urge industrialists to come to India in the area. Here is the potential."