Government mulls converting INS Vikrant into museum

Government mulls converting INS Vikrant into museum

Government mulls converting INS Vikrant into museum

With Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari putting his weight behind the “Save Vikrant” campaign, the Defence Ministry has now asked the Culture Ministry to explore the possibility of converting the decommissioned ship into a museum.

“The Ministry of Culture has been requested to examine the feasibility of converting the ship into a museum,” Defence Minister Arun Jaitley informed the Lok Sabha on Friday.

Besides the former BJP president, the late Gopinath Munde and several BJP MPs had requested the Defence Ministry not to scrap the historic warship that played a key role in the 1971 war.

The ship was commissioned in the Navy in 1961 and decommissioned in 1997. Last year, it was auctioned to IB Commercial Pvt Ltd for 60 crores after the Maharashtra government backtracked from its earlier commitment of converting the ship into a museum. In 1998, the state government proposed to convert the aircraft carrier into a floating maritime museum. Initially, the Navy spent Rs 17 crore and the Maharashtra government gave Rs 5 crore to refurbish a portion of the ship to create a small museum, which was open to the public.

Since it was parked inside the naval dockyard, however, there was limited access. In 2005, an apex coordination committee was created to expedite conversion of INS Vikrant into a museum. After several meetings of the committee, the Maharashtra government indicated in December 2012 its inability to stay committed to the project, Jaitley said.

Navy sources said the state government backtracked because of the expenses (about Rs 600 crore) involved in repairing and running the ship.

The Supreme Court is hearing a petition to decide on Vikrant's fate and the ship would not be scrapped until the final verdict.