Warship to museum: decks cleared for Vikrant makeover

The aircraft carrier that once played a critical role in the 1971 war will now be used by businessmen and others for a quick landing on the helipad inside the Indian Museum Ship Vikrant.

Written by Shweta Desai | Mumbai | Published:February 28, 2009 12:52 am

The aircraft carrier that once played a critical role in the 1971 war will now be used by businessmen and others for a quick landing on the helipad inside the Indian Museum Ship (IMS) Vikrant. The IMS Vikrant,which was decommissioned in 1997,is being developed as a commercially-viable museum on public-private partnership basis by the Maharashtra government.

The government on Friday issued a notice for request for qualification (RFQ) in this regard. CRISIL,which had carried out a feasibility study on the PPP model, had recommended commercial exploitation of the helipad and a restaurant. After a long and meritorious service,the ship is now berthed at the Naval Dockyard. IMS Vikrant has about 2,50,669 sq ft of usable space for both commercial and museum activities. The warship will be berthed at the picturesque Oyster Rock at Colaba using grouping technique and the project is expected to be completed by 2011.

IIT Chennai will provide the technical assistance for the grouting work. Officials said the government may provide viability gap funding for the project. “We are allowing commercial exploitation of the ship,as otherwise it will not be feasible for the private party,” said Ashiwini Bhide,joint managing director of the Maharashtra Urban Infrastructure Development Company (MUINFRA).

Officials said the war museum has seen tremendous cost escalation — from its original price of Rs 50 crore. “In 1999,the cost of the project was Rs 124 crore,but it escalated to Rs 185 crore in 2006 owing to the delay,” an official said,requesting anonymity.

Interestingly,visitors can also dine in a restaurant atop the ship and shop some war memorabilia at the curio shop. Apart from the restaurant,it will also house a convention centre,club,art gallery,etc.

According to senior government officials,a potential developer will earn revenues primarily from leasing space aboard the ship. The existing museum,which has exhibits on the 1971 war — with its descriptions of air operations and landings,is spread around 48,000 sq ft.

The BMC,which is also party to developing the museum ship,has made a budget provision of Rs 25 crore in 2009-2010. It is responsible for the construction of a road leading to the vessel in the middle of the sea but had backed out owing to delay in permission from Navy and Ministry of Forest and Environment.

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