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INS Vikrant memorial plans evoke dispute

Plans to erect a memorial to the Indian Navy’s first aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant kicked up a controversy on Tuesday.

A prominent activist of the Save Vikrant campaign, Kiran Paigankar, has questioned the need for such a memorial and its proposed venue – on a traffic island at Lion Gate – near the Indian Navy’s western command headquarters in south Mumbai.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had announced its plans for the memorial on Monday.

“We fail to see the need for a memorial like this on such a small location near a high security zone, which will be out of bounds for the public and create security hassles,” said Paigankar, the campaign leader for several years.

Besides, he said it is still a mystery what kind of a memorial will be constructed out of just two tonnes of metal and material retrieved from the scrapyard where the vessel was broken down.

“If they are planning to make a replica of the imposing, gigantic ship, it would not do justice to the finer aspects of the vessel which spent decades protecting the country,” he added.

Instead, he suggested that the Indian Navy hand over the ship’s huge metal name-plate, weighing several tonnes, which was visible from long distances as a memorial.

“That name-plate – ‘INS Vikrant’ – was massive and can be erected at a suitable location in the city which is frequented freely by tourists and general public instead of the high-security zone that the BMC has suggested,” Paigankar said.

On Monday, the BMC decided to support a plan to make an INS Vikrant Memorial on a traffic island near the entrance to the naval headquarters.

The BMC Standing Committee Chairman Yashodhar Phanse had submitted it in April and the matter got the green signal at a meeting of all group leaders.

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