Coming to the rescue of INS Vikrant, Ganesh mandals in the city will keep some funds aside to save INS Vikrant from being auctioned. During Navy Day celebrations last week, the central government announced its plans to auction the INS Vikrant as scrap after the Maharashtra government clearly stated that it lacked the funds to preserve and maintain it.
The announcement stirred various groups and political parties and put pressure on the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to contribute to the maintenance costs of the ship. The civic body began working on various budget provisions to convert the aircraft carrier into a maritime museum. The Brihanmumbai Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Samanvay Samiti (BSGSS) emerged saviour for the vessel, taking the initiative to collect money from various Ganesh mandals and use the contribution to save the aircraft carrier.
The city celebrates Ganesh Chaturthi on a large scale, where every sarvajanik ganeshotsav mandal spends a minimum about Rs 1 lakh to organise Ganeshotsav in their localities. The mandal associations are also involved in taking up social causes and they consider the INS Vikrant worth saving. There are about 10,400 Ganesh mandals in the city and a minimum of Rs 10,000 will be collected from each mandal.
The bigger mandals have been requested to donate generously depending on their stature. A sum of Rs 15 crore is expected to be collected from this initiative within a week’s time. Naresh Dahibaonkar, president of BSGSS, said, “We will be contributing for the maintenance of the INS Vikrant as something as historic and important like this cannot be neglected. All the mandals will be meeting soon and a proper amount will be decided. We aim to collect a sum of Rs 15 crore at least and we will request the bigger mandals like Lalbaug and Ganesh Galli to contribute more as it is for a good cause.”
With the state government showing its inefficiency in maintaining the aircraft carrier that played an important role in the 1971 India-Pakistan war, BMC Standing Committee Chairman, Rahul Shewale, demanded to have Rs 25 crore allotted for its maintenance. The proposal was earlier opposed by MNS group leader Sandeep Deshpande.
However, on Wednesday, he showed support for the cause and also contributed Rs 51,000 for it. However the city’s mayor, Sunil Prabhu believes that there is a need of a maritime museum in the city for which the INS Vikrant needs to be maintained. Prabhu, said, “The BMC should have a budget provision for INS Vikrant since they had earlier made provisions to convert it into a museum. The Ganesh mandals are also taking up this noble cause and I appreciate this move.”