Three months after the Supreme Court junked a PIL against scrapping of the country’s first aircraft carrier INS Vikrant, the process of breaking the iconic naval vessel has begun.
“We began the process of breaking INS Vikrant on Thursday and it will take at least seven to eight months to complete the job,” said Abdul Zaka of ship breaking company IB Commercial (IBC), which had won the bid for the decommissioned ship for Rs. 60 crore.
Zaka said after the Supreme Court in August rejected the PIL to convert the ship into a maritime museum, IBC obtained mandatory permissions from different government authorities for dismantling it at ship breaking yard at Darukana in south Mumbai.
Around 200 men have been engaged for the job.
Before the Supreme Court’s verdict, the Maharashtra government had expressed its inability to maintain the vessel inducted into the Navy in 1961 and decommissioned in January 1997.
In January 2014, during the hearing of a public interest litigation (PIL) that opposed the plan to scrap the ship, the defence ministry had told the Bombay high court that it had completed its operational life.
Responding to the demand for converting it into a museum, Maharashtra government had expressed its inability to preserve it as a museum, saying it would not be financially viable.
The high court had subsequently dismissed the PIL.
The Majestic-class aircraft carrier, purchased from Britain in 1957, played a key role in enforcing the naval blockade of East Pakistan during the Indo-Pakistan war of 1971 which culminated in creation of Bangladesh.
Defence sources said more than 60% of the artefacts on the ship have been moved to the Maritime History Society in Mumbai, while rest shifted to Naval Aviation Museum in Goa. The remaining relics will be shifted to various museums and motivational centres.