SC stays dismantling of decommissioned aircraft carrier INS Viraat
The Supreme Court on Wednesday stayed the dismantling of decommissioned aircraft carrier INS Viraat and issued notices on a private firm’s petition and sought responses from the ministry of defence and Shree Ram Ship Breakers, which bought the iconic ship in an auction last year.
The Centre had in July 2019 informed the Parliament that the decision to scrap Viraat was taken after due consultation with the Indian Navy.
A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde was hearing a plea by the firm Envitech Marine Consultants Private Limited that to convert the warship into a maritime museum and multi-functional adventure centre. The apex court also agreed to examine the price at which the firm can buy it from Shri Ram Ship Breakers that purchased the ship for ₹38.54 crore in an auction conducted by the Metal Scrap Trade Corporation Limited last year. The sale process was completed in September.
During the hearing on Wednesday, the petitioner firm agreed to purchase the decommissioned ship from Shree Ram Ship Breakers at ₹100 crore.
The aircraft carrier INS Viraat was inducted into the Indian Navy in 1987 and decommissioned in 2017. The warship, which is the symbol of India’s rich maritime heritage, is at the ship-breaking yard at Alang on Gujarat coast.
The world’s longest serving warship is the second aircraft carrier slated to be broken down in India. In 2014, INS Vikrant was dismantled in Mumbai. The 70-year-old aircraft carrier, in its earlier avatar, had won the Falklands War against Argentina in 1982 for the Royal British Navy.
INS Viraat weighs about 27,800 tonnes and served the British Navy as HMS Hermes from November 1959 to April 1984 and after refurbishment, was commissioned into the Indian Navy in 1987.
The warship was last deployed in February 2016, in the International Fleet Review in Viskhakapatnam. The aircraft carrier sailed under her own power for the last time from Mumbai to Kochi in July 2016. In October 2016, she was towed out of Kochi and returned to Mumbai.
(With agency inputs)
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