India's $144 million icebreaker to study polar regions
The Ministry of Earth Sciences has submitted a proposal to the government and is likely to get a go ahead by the end of 2013, said Shailesh Nayak, secretary in the ministry.
The hi-tech ship that can cut through 1.5-2 metre thick ice is equipped with several laboratories for carrying out experiments in the Arctic and in Antarctica. It will be custom built for India.
"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," said Mr. Nayak.
While India is in the process of acquiring, China has commissioned a new polar ice-breaker, its 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.
"Basically the idea is that we should be able to use the ship round the year and if you can't use it round the year, then investment is not justified. So we can use the ship for six months in Antarctica and for the same period in the Arctic," he said Mr. Nayak. ■