India plans to have its own ice breaking ship for carrying out scientific expeditions to Antarctica and Arctic.
Talking to the Hindustan Times, scientist at the Department of Earth Sciences TVP Bhaskar Rao said, "The Planning Commission has given its tentative go ahead to the project with an estimated project cost of Rs 450 crores during the present Plan period."
"More than 25 years of India's scientific expeditions to the Antarctic have been all carried out by chartering ships", he added.
"We have been paying at the rate of US $ 25,000- 30000 (Rs 11,50,178 - Rs 13,80,584) per day as chartering charges on an average normally for a period of 90 days," he said.
We therefore decided to have our own ship according to our own scientific and logistical requirements. Usually fixed through TRANSCHART (Chartering wing of Shipping Ministry), we had to make do with whatever ship was available to us. Sometimes we did not get ships for the required month and had to change our schedule, he added.
The summer period in the Antarctica is from Nov- March and winter period from April to October, he said. We will like to take advantage of the summer period and take our expedition during that time and conduct experiments there.
The winter sea ice starts breaking from November but sometimes it continues till February, leaving us very short time to take our expedition there and carry out our research before winter sets in again.
Therefore once we get our own ice breaking ship which can cut through one to two metres of sea ice we will be able to able to go to Antarctica at the beginning of the summer period itself, he added.
At present we are having consultations within our Ministry to find out exactly what is our user requirement from different scientists and scientific departments.
"Actually our own ship can be built according to the needs of our scientists. The size of the ship, its holding capacity, the equipments and laboratories on it all can be decided by us depending upon our requirements."
The ships we used till today were primarily used as cargo ship to haul the fuel and equipments, he said. The new ship would however be a scientific vessel with which we would be able conduct research on the sea even enroute to Antarctica or take it even to the Arctic for research purposes, he added.
We will have an expert committee to look into the requirements of all our scientists and once we freeze our final requirements , we will go for global competitive bids for consultants for designing and then give international tenders for building our ship.