Helicopters have been barred from flying over south Mumbai due to security reasons, but the aircraft carrier Vikrant, decommissioned in 1997, has been spared from this decision.
The Indian Navy’s first aircraft carrier was converted into a museum in 1998. The state government is now planning to convert it into a grand maritime museum. A consultant firm has submitted a project plan of Rs 500 crore, which includes a luxury hotel, a tourist destination and a helipad along with the museum.
The helipad can be used by people who wish to fly to city's business district in south Mumbai from airport or nearby areas avoiding the entire traffic in the city. The ship, rechristened IMS Vikrant will be grouted at Oyster Bay in Colaba on the Arabian Sea.
“We have a problem if a helicopter flies close to high-rise building due to safety and security reasons. If it flies on ground level then its not a problem,” said Captain Nambiar, chief PRO, Indian Navy. However, Oyster Bay has been approved as a flying zone for helicopters.
The Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (MMRDA) that is handling this special project felt that barring helicopters by Navy in south Mumbai could affect prospective visitors using helicopters.
“We were under the impression that barring helicopters might go against our plan of charging Rs 10,000 from visitors who want to fly down in a helicopter. Until it was known that this rule is only against flying near high-rises due to security reasons,” said a MMRDA official.
As per the consultant’s plan, IMS Vikrant will have a helipad, a venue for events, a gaming center, a shopping mall, cafes, a luxury hotel, a yacht club, convention halls and even billboards for advertising.
In 2003 the cost of converting IMS Vikrant into the maritime museum stood at Rs 140 crore, while the feasibility study submitted by CRISIL in August 2008 showed a total expenditure of Rs 320 crore. However the proposed cost has now gone up to Rs 500 crore.