The Supreme Court today indicated that it may lift the stay on the dismantling of the decommissioned aircraft carrier INS Viraat. It had in February barred the process of pulling apart the historic vessel retired from service in 2017. It will now hear the case after a week. The court has, meanwhile, asked the Mumbai-based company, which has sought the lifting of the ban, to focus on its supervision report.
The iconic vessel has been lying beached in Gujarat’s ship-breaking yard of Alang since September 2020.
“The ship is now private property and 40 per cent of it has been already dismantled. It can’t be given the status of an aircraft carrier now,” Chief Justice Sharad A Bobde said today.
The Mumbai company that bought the vessel had extended the same argument. The court had issued a notice to it on February 10 while staying its dismantling.
A plea had informed the court that a private group wanted to conserve the aircraft carrier and had submitted ₹ 100 crore towards this, whereas the Mumbai firm had bought it for scrap. The plea had argued that converting it into a museum was better than dismantling it.
INS Viraat was commissioned into the Indian Navy in 1987. Following its decommissioning, the Mumbai company had bid for one successfully at ₹ 38.54 crores.
Earlier attempts by states like Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra to turn it into a museum had fallen through. A British businessman, too, had failed at similar plans. Prolonged disuse and exposure to the elements deteriorated the vessel structurally, leaving it unviable for any use in its present form.