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Why is India developing new research station in Antarctica? EXPLAINED

India has two active research stations -- Maitri and Bharti -- in Antarctica. The first research station, Dakshin Gangotri was set up in 1983. It had to be abandoned after it sank in the snow.

Edited By: Anurag Roushan @Candid_Tilaiyan New Delhi Updated on: May 29, 2024 13:23 IST
India plans to develop new research station in Antarctica by 2029
Image Source : FILE India to replace ‘very old’ Maitri research station in Antarctica by 2029

India plans to discuss its proposed new research station in Antarctica at the 46th Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM), taking place in Kochi from May 20 to 30. According to details, more than 350 researchers and officials from nearly 40 countries are expected to attend. This comes after India recently announced its intention to establish a new Antarctic base, which will be located near the existing Indian Antarctic base, Maitri, in East Antarctica.

India aims for new Antarctic station by 2029

According to a government release, India has already identified the site for its new research station in Antarctica and has commissioned a preliminary topographical survey. The timeline indicates that the construction of the new Indian research base is expected to be completed by January 2029. “The Maitri research station built in 1989 is old and we wish to have a new station there. This is important for our research team. So we will discuss this proposal and seek approval from member states,” said M Ravichandran, secretary Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES).

Why a new research base in Antarctica? 

The government has announced that the existing Maitri research station in Antarctica, which has significantly surpassed its expected lifespan, is now considered outdated. Originally designed to meet India's research needs for a decade, Maitri has been in operation far longer than anticipated. However, to enhance India's scientific endeavours in Antarctica and address the constraints posed by the current research facilities, the government has proposed the construction of a new research base. The ageing infrastructure of the Maitri station has prompted this decision, as it can no longer adequately support the advanced research activities required. The new base is expected to provide modern amenities and improved capabilities, ensuring that Indian scientists can continue their important work in one of the most challenging environments on the planet.

India's research activities in Antarctica began in 1981 with the initiation of its first indigenous mission to the icy continent. The country established its initial research base, Dakshin Gangotri, in 1983, marking the beginning of a sustained scientific presence in Antarctica. In 1989, India expanded its research capabilities by making the Maitri research station operational. Presently, India operates two active research stations in Antarctica: Maitri and Bharati.

India expands Antarctic research footprint

The Bharati research station, which became operational in 2012, represents a significant advancement in India's Antarctic infrastructure. It was uniquely constructed using 134 shipping containers, showcasing innovative engineering to withstand the harsh Antarctic conditions. These bases collectively underscore India's commitment to contributing to global scientific research and understanding of the Antarctic region. The continued operation and development of these facilities are crucial for maintaining India's influential role in polar research.

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