INS Viraat to be converted into maritime museum
INS Viraat was a Centaur-class aircraft carrier of the Indian Navy. INS Viraat was the flagship of the Indian Navy before INS Vikramaditya was commissioned in 2013. The last British-built ship serving with the Indian Navy, INS Viraat was the oldest aircraft carrier in service in the world.
The state government will bid for now decommissioned INS Viraat as it plans to convert the aircraft carrier into a maritime museum. Minister for Tourism Jaykumar Rawal, on the eve of World Tourism Day, said that the government plans to berth the INS Viraat at the confluence of the Vasai-Virar creek. He expressed optimism that given the fact that Dr Subhash Bhamre, Union Minister of State for Defence being from Maharashtra the state’s claim will have more weightage.
Other states including Goa and Andhra Pradesh too are in the race to acquire the ship. INS Viraat was decommissioned from the Navy earlier this year.
In the past, Maharashtra had made a failed bid to acquire aircraft carrier INS Vikrant with a plan to convert it into a museum after it was decommissioned in 1997.
Rawal said that the state tourism department lending its support to the government’s request to the Customs department to design and develop a QR Code (Quick Response Code) for all the heritage buildings in Mumbai.
“Tourists can scan the QR code (through mobile phone) and hear (audio clip of) information about the building’s history or download it,” Mr Rawal said.
Referring to the theme of this year’s Tourism Day — ‘sustainable tourism’ – he said the government plans to launch e-vehicles in tourist hotspots such as Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani.
There is also a plan to make available bicycles for tourists in sanctuaries, hill stations and religious places, he said.
The Maharashtra government is joining hands with cruise ship company Carnival Cruise to bring cruise liners to the state’s coast, he said.
Mumbai-Cochin-Maldives cruise circuit, which will later cover Sri Lanka too, will be likely inaugurated on November 24, the minister said.
The government is aiming to get 950 cruise ships to visit the state coast in the next four years, he said.
The government is also going to start a tourist guide training program at Mumbai, Aurangabad, Sindhudurg and Nagpur, Mr Rawal said.