Photos / Shiv Aroor
Vikrant Forlorn, But Hope Near
It was pitiful to see the historic INS Vikrant aircraft carrier at the Naval dockyard in Mumbai. The navy looks after her with diligence and affection (and to the extent that it can), but government apathy and a failure to recognize the aircraft carrier’s — formerly HMS Hercules — historic importance has resulted in the ship standing listlessly inside Tiger Gate, open to visitors only at limited points of time every year. The navy maintains the museum ship from its funds, but this is clearly an unsustainable proposition (and has been for years — 14 since the ship was decommissioned). Apparently the navy still needs a corpus of funds to generate enough for basic maintenance of the vessel. But I was told there’s been movement: two companies have come forward to undertake a Rs 500-crore public-private effort to refurbish the vessel, convert it into a full-fledged museum and monetize the entire undertaking. The company that wins the bid will apparently partner with the Maharashtra Urban Infrastructure Development Company and Municipal Corporation to begin work, already delayed way beyond reason. A mixture of red tape, apathy, security sensitivities, turf battles, egos and skepticism about public interest in the vessel have resulted in the unforgivable delay in keeping Vikrant alive. Let’s hope it happens now.
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