The Government had authorized the National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCAOR), Goa to acquire a Polar Research Vehicle (PRV). Giving this information in reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha today the Minister of State for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, Shri Y.S.Chowdary said that the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) had approved acquisition of the Polar Research Vessel (PRV) in October last year at an estimated expenditure of over Rs. 1051crore.
He said the vessel is expected to contribute to India’s scientific expeditions and to sustain research at two Indian bases in Antarctica (Maitri and Bharti) and also dovetail research initiatives in the Southern Ocean domain in the proximal regions of the Antarctic continent. It could also widen the thrust on Arctic research disciplines, undertaken through Indian Station Himadri, in addition to providing a suitable research platform for other ocean research programmes.
Ever since the first Indian Scientific Expedition to Antarctica began way back in 1981, India has been managing the transportation of the expedition personnel and cargo to and back from Antarctica through chartered vessels. However, the very fact that these vessels were basically ice-class cargo vessels rendered them unsuitable for oceanographic research work. Taking into consideration (i) the growing need of the scientific community to initiate studies in the frontier realms of ocean sciences, (ii) the uncertainty in the charter-hire of polar vessels and the ever-escalating chartering costs, and (iii) the expansion of our scientific activities into the Arctic and Southern Ocean, it was decided to explore the feasibility of constructing and commissioning a polar research vessel which can cater to both the scientific and logistics aspects of the polar and Southern Ocean programmes. As the nodal agency responsible for the implementation of the country’s polar and Southern Ocean programmes, NCAOR was entrusted with the task of planning, co-ordinating and procuring the PRV.