Chennai- Work has begun on scrapping the India 's first aircraft carrier , Vikrant.

Built for the British Royal Navy as HMS Hercules in 1943, it was acquired by India in 1957 and saw action during the India-Pakistan war in 1971, playing a key role.

When the electric saws were pressed upon the ship, it essentially put an end to a movement by activists to save her. Vikrant was auctioned to a ship-breaker for Rs 63 million this year. Mumbai's IB Commercials Pvt Ltd won the bid on January 29 and bought the vessel on April 9. Since then, the company faced hurdles as a PIL filed in the Bombay high court towards the end of 2013 proceeded to the Supreme Court.

Save Vikrant Committee chief Kiran Paigankar, who had filed the PIL to save the ship, termed it "a sad day in the country's glorious maritime history ". He said it was unfortunate that the process to expedite the end of Vikrant was initiated by the Indian Navy which once considered the vessel its 'pride'. Vikrant, a museum ship in her last role, scrapped after activists lose battle to save her. "I was ready to accede to the activists' demand for converting the vessel into a permanent museum. But my request to get my money back, the money that I had pumped in to buy the ship, was not granted. I had taken loans on high interest," said Abdul Karim Jaka, the owner of IB Commercials. "I had been meeting the activists even before the PIL was filed. I met them even after the PIL was dismissed on August 14. I met Admiral (retd) I C Rao and Aam Aadmi Party's Meera Sanyal, but nothing concrete happened. The navy handed over the vessel to us in October. On November 12, we got the go ahead from the Supreme Court to start cutting the steel." His son Zuber said, "At 2pm on Tuesday, approximately 200 workers at our yard embarked upon the work to cut out 15,700 tons of steel from the vessel."

"An important chapter of Indian history revolving around Vikrant has finally ended. Despite all our efforts, we could not prevent her from breaking up," Paigankar said.