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SOURCE: PTI

The hope to save decommissioned warship “Viraat” from dismantling is fading with each passing day as the private firm which showed interest in converting the iconic vessel into a museum is yet to acquire an NOC for the project from the Centre.

Shree Ram Group, the Gujarat-based owner of the warship, on Monday said it was willing to wait for three more days to enable the firm, Envitech Marine Consultants Pvt Ltd, to obtain a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the Centre for its museum project.

The majestic aircraft carrier, which was inducted into the Indian Navy in 1987 and decommissioned in 2017, was purchased by Shree Ram Group, an Alang-based shipbreaker, for a sum of Rs 38.54 crore at an auction in July this year.

Earlier this month, Chairman of the Group, Mukesh Patel, had sought Rs 100 crore from Mumbai-based Envitech Marine, which is making last ditch efforts to save the warship from being dismantled and to convert it into a maritime museum.

“I am ready to give away the warship for Rs 100 crore as the Mumbai-based firm is doing this out of patriotism. But, only money is not the issue here.

“As per rules, the firm can not buy the ship from me without an NOC from the Centre,” Patel told PTI.

“I am waiting for the firm to approach me with the NOC since more than two weeks now. But, I have learned that the firm has not received the NOC yet.

“But, I will still wait till October 15 when the high tide would come. After that, I will have to start the dismantling process,”he said.

High tide helps tow the ship till the dismantling plot on the shore of Alang, a coastal town in Bhavnagar district which houses the world’s largest ship-breaking yard.

After being brought from Mumbai, the ship is currently berthed in the sea around 1km away from the Alang shore.

V K Sharma, managing director of Envitech Marine, was not available for comments.

He had earlier expressed confidence about getting the NOC from the Centre so that Viraat can be converted into a museum and preserved for posterity.

Sharma had claimed he received support from the Goa government in his patriotic endeavour.

Viraat, the world’s longest serving warship, was decommissioned by the Indian Navy after three decades in service.

It is the second aircraft carrier slated to be broken down in India. In 2014, another decommissioned warship, Vikrant, was dismantled in Mumbai.

The 70-year-old aircraft carrier, in its earlier avatar, had won the Falklands War against Argentina in 1982 for the Royal British Navy.

Viraat weighs about 27,800 tonnes and served in the British Navy as ‘HMS Hermes’ from November 1959 to April 1984. After undergoing refurbishment, the vessel was commissioned into the Indian Navy in 1987.