Activists say the decision has robbed many daily wage workers of their livelihood
Closure of the warship museum by Karwar City Municipal Council (CMC) authorities on Thursday kicked up a row. Many organisations, including the Karnataka Rakshana Vedike (KRV), have demanded immediate reopening of the museum.
The activists alleged that by this action of the CMC, daily wage workers who were depending on the job inside the museum were left in lurch. The KRV activists on Thursday protested in front of the CMC demanding work for the workers. Many tourists who had come to visit the museum had to return after they found the gates locked on Thursday.
S.L. Fernandes, who taken the contract of maintenance of the warship museum through the tender, alleged that he had to suffer losses by the action of the CMC. He said that he was acting according to the conditions of the contract. Despite that, the CMC authorities took charge of the museum son Thursday, he alleged. Refuting the allegation of the contractor, Uday Kumar Shetty, Commissioner of Karwar CMC, said the contract between the CMC and Joy Electricals owned by Fernandis had ended about eight months ago.
It came to his notice soon after assuming charge as Commissioner last month. He had asked the contractor to hand over the keys. As the contractor did not hand over the keys, the CMC locked the doors of the museum, he said.
Mr. Shetty said Karwar CMC paid Rs. 44,000 a moth to the contractor. Hundreds of tourists visited the museum every day. But the contractor had not been maintaining any account and paid just Rs. 10,000 a month to the CMC as the collection causing huge loss to the government exchequer.
He said that although the ship was decommissioned from Navy, it was a national pride. There was no security arrangement.
The daily wage workers appointed by the contractor were keeping the keys with them. The locks doors of the captain's cabin had been opened and the beds inside the cabin were in very bad condition. There were no cameras and spotlights to keep a tab on the visitors. The garden where the ship was kept was in very bad shape. This prompted the CMC to take action, he said.
Brushing aside the allegation that the museum would be closed forever, Mr. Shetty said it would reopen within a week.
The intereiors of the museum needed painting. Surveillance cameras and spotlights would be set installed. The LCD screen would be repaired to show the glimpses of 1971 war. A small auditorium would be built to show the documentaries on armed forces, he said. There was no question of bowing to any pressure, he said.
The ship, named “Chapal”, was brought to Karwar from Visakhapatnam in 2005 and was kept in a garden adjacent to the National Highway No. 17 for public view. The warship was used in the 1971 India-Pakistan war and had destroyed many enemy ships. After decommissioning from the Navy, it was brought to Visakhapatnam and then to Karwar.