Remember INS Vikrant (R11)? She was India’s first aircraft carrier which played a crucial role in the 1971 Indo-Pak War.
The carrier was maintained as a museum ship by the Indian Navy for a few years but lack of interest from state governments and private sector brought the curtains down on her second innings. Eventually, she was sold for scrap.
Today, auto giant Bajaj produces a model of bikes, V-15, made from the metal of INS Vikrant. That’s where the majestic carrier which once commanded the seas has landed – on the street.
A fate even worse might befall INS Viraat, the recently decommissioned aircraft carrier of the Indian Navy. The 58-year-old carrier is set for permanent retirement on March 6.
Unlike INS Vikrant, Viraat might not even get that second lease of life.
A report quotes Ministry of Defence officials stating that there is still a lot of confusion over who would foot the bill required to maintain the carrier as a museum ship.
The Andhra Pradesh government had expressed interest in maintaining the ship as a museum but it wants the Ministry to share half of the bill.
The report quotes an official saying that the mere conversion of the 27,800-tonne carrier to a museum would cost Rs.1000 crore. A proper revenue model, too, is needed to help in maintaining the ship for a long innings.
That Rs.1000 crore amount is way more than the Rs.20 crore amount which the Andhra Government had said would cost in 2015.
MoD says that it will provide technical assistance and any advice but won’t fund the cost of the ship.
It is indeed sad that state governments can dole out huge sums of money on populist schemes that hardly do any productive good but don’t have money or a plan for turning a ship into a museum or even a hotel. What is, however, deplorable is that corporate houses sell products on patriotic fervour but are found wanting when needed to save a ship that actually served the nation with honour.