Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Thursday rejected a PIL seeking to preserve India`s first aircraft carrier `Vikrant` by converting it into a maritime museum.
The Maharashtra government argued that the project of having a maritime museum on the ship was not viable considering the expenditure involved, while the Centre submitted that the ship`s life was over and therefore it would be dangerous to house a museum on the carrier.
Additional Solicitor General Kevic Setalvad for the Union government said the state government had withdrawn the proposal to convert the ship into a maritime museum.
The bench headed by Chief Justice Mohit Shah said, "we will be happy if `Vikrant` (converted) into a maritime museum but we cannot force the state to do that. It is the choice of the government to have a maritime museum on the ship or erect a statue (of Chhatrapti Shivaji) in the sea. It depends on their policy".
The bench also referred to a suggestion in certain quarters that river waters, which were discharged into the Arabian sea, be diverted to drought-prone areas in the state.
"Even this would depend on the choice of the state whether or not to divert the river waters to drought-prone areas", the Judges said.
The PIL filed by Kiran Paigankar had also sought a direction to the Union government to not auction off the ship as scrap and preserve it as the maritime museum.
The Defence ministry filed an affidavit saying "INS Vikrant`s hull is over 70 years old. It was decommissioned on completion of its operational life. It would be in the best interest of the naval services to dispose of such ships as expeditiously as possible."
"At a certain stage, ships can no longer be economically refurbished or repaired. Maintenance and berthing of such ships requires heavy expenditure of public funds," the affidavit said.