MPs approach defence secretary to save Vikrant

MPs approach defence secretary to save Vikrant

A group of newly elected MPs claims to have received Defence Secretary R K Mathur’s consent to stop sailing the decommissioned aircraft carrier Vikrant out of Mumbai harbour till a new defence minister assumes office and reviews the situation.

“Defence Secretary R K Mathur told me he would consider stopping the movement of Vikrant out of Mumbai for the time being,” Kirit Somaiya, one of the BJP MPs who approached the Defence Ministry with a petition to save Vikrant, told Deccan Herald.

The latest development in the campaign to save the ageing aircraft carrier comes a few days after the Supreme Court said it can be moved out of the Mumbai naval dockyard.

Somaiya, along with several other Parliament members from Maharashtra, approached Mathur to preserve the warship, decommissioned by the Navy in 1997. They wanted revival of the Vikrant conservation plan and convert the ship into a martyr’s memorial.

Other signatories in the petition include Gopal Shetty, Rahul Shewale, Poonam Mahajan, Dilip Gandhi, Hansraj Ahir and Kapil Patil.

Navy sources, however, pointed out that in the past 15 years, several plans to convert Vikrant into a museum as well as a commercial helicopter landing platform have come a cropper.

First, the Maharashtra government backtracked from the museum plan because of the expenses (about Rs 600 crore) involved and later, the Navy objected to helicopter operations from Vikrant’s deck citing airspace violation for naval aviation station INS Kunjali.

The companies that came forward for commercial utilisation of Vikrant backed out following the Navy’s objections.