New Delhi, March 21:
The longest serving aircraft carrier INS Viraat, which was recently decommissioned, could have been converted into an aircraft museum and a hotel, but the Defence Ministry was not ready for a 50:50 partnership with the Andhra Pradesh government, the Rajya Sabha was informed on Tuesday.
In a written reply to a question in the Upper House, Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre said a proposal to convert INS Viraat into an aircraft museum, with tourist and hospitality components on commercial basis, was forwarded by the Andhra Pradesh government on October 26, 2016.
“Andhra Pradesh government had requested 50 per cent equity participation by the Ministry of Defence in their proposed Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for the proposal,” the minister said.
“The proposal for equity participation was not accepted by the Ministry of Defence and the same was communicated to the government of Andhra Pradesh on 14.12.2016,” the minister said.
The Andhra Pradesh government had proposed to convert INS Viraat into an offshore luxury hotel and build a marina, along with an entertainment zone around it.
The state government wanted 50:50 sharing with the union government as the project was expected to cost around Rs 1,000 crore, with an annual maintenance cost of Rs 150 crore.
The ship was decommissioned on March 6, and its future remains uncertain.
In an interview to news channel NDTV, Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba said one of the post retirement proposals is to sink it and convert the ship into a tourist attraction for divers.
The Navy chief also said if no buyers were found for the ship in four months, it would be broken and sold for scrap.
INS Viraat was completed and commissioned in the Royal Navy of Britain 1959 as HMS Hermes. In 1984, it was decommissioned from the Royal Navy and subsequently, it was commissioned in the Indian Navy in May 1987.
Commonly called “Grand Old Lady”, it was the world’s oldest serving aircraft carrier when the Indian Navy decommissioned it. (IANS)