The Defence Ministry will soon move the Union Cabinet for an additional Rs. 2000 crore to meet the cost overrun for completing the first phase of Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC) being constructed at the Cochin Shipyard - on India's western seaboard.
The IAC, which is likely to be named INS Vikrant, is likely to be over 40,000 tonnes and is biggest ship that India has ever built. The construction of the ship has been delayed due several reasons primarily because India was unable to procure special steel from Russia and also because gear boxes produced by a Gujarat-based firm in collaboration with the German partner had been found to be faulty.
Public sector giant, Steel Authority of India (SAIL) has come to rescue of the Indian Navy by producing the special quality steel. The first of the two remade gear boxes have reached Kochi a few days ago.
INS Vikrant under construction, at Cochin ( Image Courtesy - freewebs.com )
Defence Minister, Mr A K Antony who reviewed the progress of the construction of the ship today directed Defence Secretary Shashikant Sharma to constantly monitor the progress of the construction and formed empowered apex committee. Defence Minister Antony has asked Cochin ship yard to come with a "firm date of delivery". Sources said that Mr Antony has also told the shipyard that "we cannot go on hearing excuses. Everybody has to be accountable for the warship which is a national project and responsibilities in case of further slippages will have to be fixed."
The aircraft carrier is critical to India's ambition to emerge as a dominant player in the Indian Ocean region. Although India needs at least two, if not three, aircraft carriers, however, to ensure that it has at least one carrier available at all times, at present it is still pushing the 50 year old British made war horse INS Viraat.
With the USA likely to reduce its presence in the Persian Gulf, the Indian Navy desperately needs major assets like Aircraft Carriers to maintain its presence and also shape the developments in the volatile gulf region. "It is because we're uncertain about when we are likely to get the next carrier we have been keeping INS Viraat in the best shape possible," a senior Naval officer told NDTV.
INS Viraat which has gone through over a dozen major and minor refits, is currently undergoing another refit is likely to be in the docks and out of action till March 2013. This refit will make the carrier operational, at least till 2020.
News Courtesy - ndtv.com