VISAKHAPATNAM:The City of Destiny will be home for Indian Navy’s aircraft carrier INS Viraat, provided the state government pulls up its sock and submits a detailed project report, including the financials aspect, to the Navy immediately. Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu has already written to Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar setting in motion the process to acquire the central government’s clearance for stationing the ship after its decommissioning next year.
INS Viraat, India’s oldest warship and the last British-built aircraft carrier serving the Indian Navy since its acquisition in 1987, is all set to be decommissioned in 2016. The state government wants to acquire the ship and turn it into a major tourist attraction in Visakhapatnam beach. The government proposed to develop the ship into a museum, a hotel or a venue for MICE (meeting, incentives, conferencing and exhibition) at an estimated cost of `200 crore.
Highly-placed sources in the Indian Navy said that the Navy is willing to hand over the aircraft carrier to the state free of cost.
“But given our experience with INS Vikrant, we are being cautious and want the state government to submit a detailed project report including the government’s plans for its usage like a museum or a hotel, investment involved and how the ship would be grouted,” a senior naval officer said. Several states competed to acquire INS Vikrant but no one came forward when it came to investments and the ship was sold as scrap.