CM Pramod Sawant gives nod to moor it in Goa
TOIPANAJI: A last ditch attempt is under way to save INS Viraat, with a private company showing interest in converting the oldest aircraft carrier in the world into a floating museum in Goa. If successful, the effort will save INS Viraat from being broken down for its metal and may also make Goa the first in Asia to have an aircraft carrier museum. A state government official said the private company, Envi Tech, had approached minister of state for defence Shripad Naik and offered to purchase the ship and bring it to Goa. “We have given our approval subject to the company getting other requisite permissions. The approval was given after Naik approached us,” chief minister Pramod Sawant told TOI. Senior officials said though Sawant has cleared the file to moor the decommissioned aircraft carrier in the state’s waters, it remains stuck with the ministry of defence (MoD). ‘Without def min’s nod, chances of converting carrier to museum slim’It was former chief minister Manohar Parrikar’s dream to have the INS Viraat here in Goa as a floating museum. Let’s hope it comes true,” said an official in the CM’s office. Sources in the Indian Navy said that unless the defence ministry agrees to revise the contract and permit the INS Viraat to be converted into a floating museum, chances appear slim as time is running out. INS Vikrant was the hermes berkin replica under 50 dollars
country’s first aircraft carrier acquired from the UK in 1961, decommissioned in 1997 and finally junked as scrap in 2014 after a similar fruitless wait for 17 long years. “The contract, when the INS Viraat was sold to Shree RamGroup, is for the vessel to be scrapped. The successful bidder cannot just sell it to someone else without the defence ministry’s signoff,” said a senior naval official. Retired and serving naval personnel are keeping their fingers crossed. “India Inc to the rescue?” tweeted former chief of naval staff Arun Prakash. “Understand private party has undertaken to convert INS Viraat into a maritime memorial or museum at own expense and obtained approval of Goa government to park her in Zuari river. Race against time for MoD approval before ship is permanently beached on September 30.” INS Viraat was towed to Asia’s largest ship scrapyard in Alang with the beaching process set to commence on Wednesday. Though the defence minister initially put a price tag of Rs 200 crore on INS Viraat, the vessel, which began life in 1959 as HMS Hermes was finally sold for Rs 38.5 crore. As HMS Hermes, it had participated in the Falkland war. Sources in the chief minister’s office said the defence ministry was very particular about how the ship should be used and they didn’t want it to be converted into offshore casino or floating hull. The ship was in service for almost 29 years. After decommissioning, the defence ministry offered the vessel to various states, but nothing fructified of the several proposals. When the defence ministry first put up the vessel for sale, nobody came forward to purchase the ship. So, the Centre offered it in an open auction. At the open auction, the highest bidder was Gujarat based Shree Ram Shipping. The beaching of the vessel, which is the start of the dismantling process, is expected to take 7 10 days due to the size of the aircraft carrier. Any hopes to save the vessel from being broken down into metal for recycling, hinges on quick decision making, said sources. The defence ministry had asked Envi Tech to get it in writing either from Goa, Maharashtra or Andhra Pradesh governments that they want to have museum in their state. “As the interest was shown by Naik, Sawant thought that by getting the ship to Goa it will be honouring Parrikar, as he wanted the ship to be in the state and that is the reason the chief minister gave permission to get the ship to Goa,” state government officials said. The state will not spend anything to get the ship to Goa, but the move is expected to boost Goa’s tourism potential. Goa has six national water ways. Sources said the ship would be mooring in one of these. “It has to be ecological acceptable in the river,” sources said.