PUNE: In the pipeline for the last three years, work on the ambitious Oceanarium-based theme park might just taken off now. The Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation has issued a government resolution to acquire 1,400 acres of land in Tondavali-Vayangani villages in the Malvan tehsil of Sindhudurg district, where the park showcasing sea creatures from around the world will be located.
Previously referred to as Sea World, the park's location has been handpicked from three to four options that MTDC was considering for the project. The MTDC has identified a plateau at a height of 200 feet above the sea level for the theme park. "Major chunk of the land is rock mass and has no trees, which means that there would not be any environmental damage when this project takes off. In addition, the land has few settlements or hutments," an official said.
The MTDC also plans a metro railway connecting the upcoming Chippi airport here with major tourist destinations, helicopter or heli-taxi services connecting major cities, a marina, zoo, hotels and even a rain forest on the acquired land.
Officials said they were expecting an investment of Rs 5,000 crore for the project, which will include the cost of the Oceanarium-based theme park. Of the 1,400 acres of land that will be acquired, a chunk has been reserved for the oceanarium and the theme park, while a part has been slotted for the zoo. "The oceanarium will have several side features like the zoo, rain forest, hotels and a marina, among other things. The idea is to treat tourists to a place which they have not come across anywhere in India or Asia," he said.
The name that the oceanarium-based theme park will get is, however, yet to be decided as several such oceanariums are located in other parts of the globe. The MTDC will invite private, national and international entrepreneurs through global tenders, for bilateral partnerships (to undertake the project).
The oceanarium will exhibit sea creatures from across the world as per government and international norms. "The place would be more of a rehabilitation and rescue centre for marine birds and creatures," the official added.
Though the plan is yet to be finalised, a rescue and rehabilitation centre for marine birds and creatures such as whales and dolphins near the site is also being considered. "We will use a new Japanese technology to facilitate planting of certain endemic tree varieties in the proposed rain forest. The biotechnology will help these varieties grow faster," he said.
The project is based on public-private partnership model, wherein MTDC will provide infrastructure such as roads, electricity, water, drainage and the like. "We also plan to develop metro railway from the Chippi airport to major tourist destinations in Sindhudurg as well as Goa. The modalities of the same still have to be worked out. Yet another part of the project is building a marina at the site, which is between a sea and a creek. It is an ideal location for a marina, where all yacht and ships could be kept. A few major jetties will also be constructed here," he said.
Some land will be reserved for staff and as recreational area, some for infrastructural amenities, tourism projects such as five-star, four-star and three-star hotels.
The official added that the aim is to facilitate tourist movement by air, road and rail, making it a smooth travel for international tourists. "Heli taxi services are also on the cards, connecting major parts of the country, in order to reduce travel time for tourists. Helicopters are economical, as the cost of travelling in one is half of what it costs in an aeroplane," said the official. MTDC officials said that no compromises will be made on security of tourists.