Dismantling of INS Viraat to continue, SC dismisses plea to make it a museum

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The dismantling of INS Viraat, the Navy’s decommissioned aircraft carrier, will continue with the Supreme Court refusing to intervene on behalf of a private firm which wanted to turn the vessel into a maritime museum-cum-adventure centre.

“Somebody has already paid the money for the ship. The ship has been sold to the respondent (a ship-breaker called Shree Ram Group in Gujarat),” Chief Justice of India Sharad A. Bobde addressed the petitioner, Envitech Marine Consultants Private Limited, represented by Vishnukant Sharma and Rupali Vishnukant Sharma.

Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, for Shree Ram Group, said the Bombay High Court had allowed Envitech to approach the Ministry of Defence with their proposal. But the government had maintained a non-committal tone in the High Court and asked Envitech to approach the Shree Ram Group with a proposal to re-purchase the ship.

“The HC had allowed you to make a representation and the government has refused. You have not challenged the rejection,” Chief Justice Bobde told Ms. Sharma, dismissing the petition.

On February 10, the court had ordered a stay on the process of dismantling the ship at an Alang yard in Gujarat. The carrier was bought by Shree Ram Group in a bid. The 67-year-old iconic warship was towed to the breaking yard after over a three-decade service in the Navy.

Envitech had first approached the Bombay High Court with their proposal to reclaim the aircraft carrier and convert it into a museum. The High Court had asked the government to take a call. 

Mr. Dhavan had described Envitech as a “fly-by-night operator”. “We don’t even know who they are… I am losing ₹1.6 crore a month and ₹5 lakh a day because of the stay,” Mr. Dhavan had submitted. He had said that 40% of the warship was already been broken.

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