INS Vikrant, India's first aircraft carrier, which saw action in the 1971 India-Pakistan war, has been sold by auction to a ship-breaker for Rs60 crore, defence ministry officials said in Mumbai late on Tuesday.
The iconic but dated and defunct carrier was sold to Mumbai's IB Commercials Pvt Ltd, reports said without further details.
The once-imposing vessel, commissioned by the Indian Navy in 1961, was decommissioned in 1997 and has been kept at anchor at the Naval Dockyard in Mumbai.
During the hearing of a public interest litigation in January 2014, the union government informed the Bombay High Court that the ship had completed its operational life.
The Maharashtra government expressed its inability to preserve the ship as a floating museum owing to financial constraints, following which the high court dismissed the PIL.
The petitioners now plan to move the Supreme Court in a last attempt to save the 15,000 tonnes steel ship.
The 70-year-old vessel, purchased as HMS Hercules from Great Britain in 1957, was rechristened as 'INS Vikrant' and helped enforce a naval blockade of East Pakistan - now Bangladesh - during the 1971 war.
Activist Kiran Paigankar, who had filed the writ petition in the Bombay High Court trying to save the ship, said he plans to move the Supreme Court against the auction.
"We shall request the Supreme Court to allow any other state government or port trust to come forward and take it over since the Maharashtra government is not willing to save it," Paigankar said.