Now, Mumbaikars will be treated to the sight of a retired Sea Harrier jet, installed as a memorial adjacent to Bandstand promenade. The jet served in the Indian Navy for 37 years before it was decommissioned from the aircraft carrier INS Viraat in 2017.
The Indian Navy, in an attempt to boost young Mumbaikars, handed over the retired aircraft to the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). The official handing over took place on Thursday morning on the eve of Navy Day 2020, in the presence of Rear Admiral V Srinivas (flag officer commanding Maharashtra Naval area), state Minister of Tourism Aaditya Thackeray, Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar and Bandra West Corporator Asif Zakaria.
Earlier, in 2016, the Indian Navy had installed a memorial of INS Vikrant at Lion Gate, Fort. The Navy wanted a similar memorial for INS Viraat in Mumbai; hence, it decided to erect the monument at the iconic Bandstand promenade.
"March past events are held every year during Independence Day and Republic Day at the Bandstand promenade. The jet will add essence to the celebrations and also will be an added bonus to this place, as thousands of tourists visit Bandstand daily," Zakaria told the Free Press Journal.
The plan for installing the jet was commissioned in December last year. The unveiling was supposed to take place in January, but it got postponed to March. Due to the lockdown, the Navy and the BMC jointly decided to hold the official handing over ceremony as part of the Navy Day celebrations.
The jet weighs around 4,600 kilograms and has been installed over 300 square metres at the traffic island. The island has been constructed by the local H west ward office of the BMC, which has created pathways for the public and has beautified the garden as well.
"This is the first ever Harrier Jet monument in Mumbai. We have also erected a tablet that would read about the history of the aircraft," a senior BMC engineer of the H west ward told the Free Press Journal.
Built by the British Aerospace, the Indian Navy became the second country to fly the Harrier jet after it was inducted in the fleet in 1983. The aircraft was a Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing attack aircraft and operated from the deck of INS Viraat.
"Dedicating this monument to the citizens of Mumbai is the reassurance of devotion and commitment of the Indian Navy towards safeguarding our maritime boundaries," the Indian Navy stated in a statement.