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Apex Court halts dismantling of INS Viraat

Krishnadas Rajagopal New Delhi | Updated on February 10, 2021

INS Viraat awaiting dismantling at a scrapping yard at Alang   -  -

The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered status quo on the dismantling of the Navy’s decommissioned aircraft-carrier, INS Viraat.

A Bench led by Chief Justice Sharad A Bobde issued notice to the Union of India and Shree Ram Group of Industries, arraigned as respondents in the special leave petition filed by Envitech Marine Consultants Private Limited, Vishnukant Sharma and Rupali Vishnukant Sharma.

“Parties are directed to maintain status quo with regard to dismantling/breaking of the subject-ship known as INS Viraat, as on date,” the Supreme Court ordered. Envitech had earlier approached the Bombay High Court with a request to buy the decommissioned Viraat so that it could be converted into a maritime museum and a multi-functional adventure centre. The High Court had asked the government to take acall. The warship is currently awaiting dismantling at the ship scrapping yard at Alang in Gujarat. “The hull is still intact,” Rupali Sharma, appearing in person, submitted before the Bench.

The petitioners have argued that Viraat, which was the oldest serving warship at the time of its decommissioning, should not be sold as scrap.

In the High Court, the Centre had reportedly said that the 67-year-old ship, which had served the Navy for about three decades, was sold to the Gujarat-based Shree Ram Group, a ship-breaking firm, which won the bid. It had said that communications to various States for proposals on the ship went unanswered.

The government, it was reported, had suggested in the High Court that the petitioners could approach Shree Ram Group with a proposal to purchase the ship.

‘35-40% has already been dismantled’

The Supreme Court’s stay on dismantling INS Viraat comes at a time when the vintage aircraft-carrier is already in the process of being dismantled. Over two months into the dismantling, 35-40 per cent of the ship has already been cut, according to the recycler at Alang.

The recycler, Mukeshbhai Patel, Chairman, Shree Ram Group, said that he had not received any order or notice so far regarding suspension of dismantling work from any authority and that the recycling of the ship was progressing as planned.

 

 

 

Published on February 10, 2021

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