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Shop and dine on board INS Vikrant

State plans to rope in private developers, set up restaurants, convention centre, shopping mallm. Ketaki Ghoge reports.
By Ketaki Ghoge | Hindustan Times, Mumbai
UPDATED ON FEB 07, 2008 11:55 PM IST

The much-delayed plans for converting the 1971 Indo-Pak war hero INS Vikrant into a national museum may soon get back on track with help from the private sector. The state is hoping to rope in a private investor to transform the 5-storey, 16,000 tonne warship, decommissioned in 1997, into a museum featuring a convention centre, a restaurant and maybe even a mall.

This means you could drive out to Oyster Rock — where the 700-feet-long ship will be grounded, just off the southernmost tip of the city —just to have dinner on board the country’s first aircraft carrier.

The state has written to 10 consultants — including IL&FS, Deloitte & Touche, PricewaterhouseCoopers, all empanelled as transaction advisors for public-private partnership projects by the Centre — to prepare a detailed project report (DPR) for the ship.

“The state is keen on opening the ship to the public,” said Secretary (Special Projects) Sanjay Ubale. “To make the project viable, we are looking at private investors. Besides the museum, the ship can house various other amenities for citizens.”

The DPR from the consultants will be presented before an apex coordination committee that includes the director general of naval projects, the chief of the Indian Navy’s western regional command and the chief secretary, for approval.

Earlier efforts to turn the warship into a museum did not take off, largely due to a cash crunch. A project submitted by Tata Consultancy Services in 2000 pegged the cost of the museum at around Rs 124 crore.

However, if the track record of the Navy and state government is anything to go by, the road for the makeover of the warship will be a long one. The facelift has been on the anvil since 1999, when the ship was decommissioned and headed for the scrapyard.

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