The Government of India has approved the acquisition of polar research vessel (PRV) to support its research in the Antarctic and Arctic regions.
The decision by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will allow the Ministry of Earth Sciences of India to acquire an ice-breaker, research / supply vessel at a total cost of INR10.51 ($171.1m) within a period of three years.
The vessel will help India to sustain its two research bases in Antarctica, Maitri and Bharti, and enhance Arctic research at the Himadri base.
The new development will also enable the country to offer a suitable research platform for other tropical sea programmes.
Currently, Indian Antarctic expeditions are taking place with the help of onboard ice-class vessels / ice-breakers chartered from the international market; however, being cargo ships, the vessels are only able to transport crew and materials and cannot serve as a research platform.
In addition, the high demand for cargo vessels in the market has increased the charter charges.
The government anticipates that this vessel will build upon India’s sustained presence and increased visibility in the ocean sector.
India launched its first Indian scientific expedition to Antarctica in 1981 and the country marked its presence in the Southern Ocean realm and Arctic during 2004 and 2007 respectively.