India to acquire icebreaker

Polar exploration

India is in the process of acquiring an icebreaker for a whopping Rs.800 crore ($144 million) for conducting scientific and business exploration in the polar regions.

Shailesh Nayak, Secretary in the Ministry of Earth Sciences, said that they have submitted a proposal to the government and may to get a go ahead by the end of 2013.

The hi-tech ship that can cut through 1.5-2 metres of thick ice and is equipped with several laboratories for carrying out experiments in the Arctic and in Antarctica. It is to be custom built for India.

“We are in the process of acquiring an icebreaker ship for carrying out exploration in the polar region. We have the design on the kind of ship, facility and labs we need ready”, Nayak said.

“The ship would cost somewhere around Rs. 800-900 crore. We have to go through a long process of approvals and hopefully we will get the final approval by this year. Our estimate as of now is that we should be able to get it by the end of 2016,” he said.
While India is in the process of acquiring, China has commissioned a new polar ice-breaker, second after the Xuelong, or snow dragon.

Besides scientific interests, both India and China have business interests related to mineral resources, fisheries and shorter sea routes in the Arctic. India has one research station in the Arctic, Himadri, and three in  Antarctica.

Explaining India’s interest behind buying the ship, Nayak said: “This signifies that we are serious about studying changes in climate change happening in the polar regions. Right now for experiments, we hire or charter the ships from private parties in Russia and Norway for short durations.”

The ship can be used in North Pole and South Pole.

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