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|October 30, 1998||
Indian Navy may rethink Vikrant museum project
The Indian Navy may do a rethink on the much-discussed Vikrant museum-cum-helipad project because of inordinate delays.
During an informal chat with reporters in Bombay, Vice-Admiral Madhvendra Singh, flag officer commanding-in-chief, Western Naval Command, said, "We have wasted enough time, money and manpower on the decommissioned aircraft carrier."
The Rs 760 million project is supposed to be executed by the Indian Navy in collaboration with the Maharashtra government.
After the navy had served an ultimatum on the state government in July, the latter cleared the hurdles put up by the Bombay Port Trust in connection with a site for berthing the ship permanently.
But things slowed down again thereafter and the fate of the project is still unknown.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Manohar Joshi and Cultural Affairs and Public Relations Minister Pramod Navalkar have repeatedly stated the government's interest in the project.
But Vice-Adm Singh said it is almost two years since INS Vikrant was decommissioned and the navy has been bearing the financial burden.
Moreover, there are chances that due to rusting the ship may sink and the navy may lose even the money (about Rs 180 million) which it can get from selling the vessel as scrap. And salvaging the berth may cost several million rupees more.
"We have not set any deadline... but a decision has to be taken fast," the admiral said.
Sources say finance is the biggest hurdle for the project. The state government is banking on private participation. It also expects the helipad to attract private operators. But it is yet to take a final decision.
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