The Supreme Court on Wednesday, February 10 stayed the dismantling of decommissioned aircraft carrier INS Viraat, however, a ship-breaker who had purchased it now finds it impossible to assemble the carrier.
More than 40 per cent of the aircraft carrier has been dismantled, said Mukesh Patel, Chairman of Shree Ram Group, a Gujarat based ship-breaker that purchased the ship in July last year for ₹ 38.54 crores.
The firm started the dismantling at its ship-breaking yard in December 2020 and now finds it impossible to reassemble the parts that have been removed.
"Over 40 per cent of dismantling work is complete. We have already pulled the ship towards the shore and also dismantled some portions of the hull, making it impossible for the ship to remain afloat now," Patel said, soon after the SC gave its order.
"I have not received any notice yet from the court. But it is already too late for the ship to be used for any other purpose. Our legal team would submit a reply if a notice is served to us," he said.
A bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde issued a notice to the government and others seeking response on a plea filed by a firm which seeks preservation of the carrier as a museum.
The centaur-class aircraft carrier, INS Viraat, was inducted into the Indian Navy in 1987 and was in service for nearly 29 years before being decommissioned in March 2017.
In July 2019, the government informed Parliament that the decision to scrap Viraat was taken after due consultation with the Indian Navy.
In December 2020, Rajya Sabha MP Priyanka Chaturvedi wrote a letter to Defence minister Rajnath Singh, saying, "It would be a crying shame if we let go our history without giving the benefit of knowledge to our future generation."
"Viraat's preservation is well merited and deserving of strong consideration. It can be saved if the Government of India so desires. I am certain that the Maharashtra Government will be ready to cooperate in restoring and preserving the historic ship," the MP wrote.
"Let Viraat be a living, breathing and thriving memorial of India's nationalism, patriotism and pride. Let us be preservers than destroyers of our rich history," Chaturvedi said.
INS Viraat is the second aircraft carrier to be dismantled in India. In 2014, Vikrant was dismantled in Mumbai.