India is giving its Arctic research activities a leg-up at the Himadri research station with a visit by Salman Khurshid, minister for external affairs, weeks after becoming an observer in the Arctic council.
The station, inaugurated in 2008, is at Ny-Alesund, Norway, 1200 km from the North Pole. Khurshid left for Norway Monday night.
India and other five other countries — China, Italy, Japan, South Korea and Singapore —got observer status in the Arctic council last month.
“The visit is significant as it comes in the wake of India becoming an observer at the Arctic Council,”said an official.
The Council, which coordinates Arctic policy, is gaining importance with sea ice thawing set to open up new trade routes and intensify competition over an estimated 15% of oil and 30% of undiscovered gas reserves in the world.
Though its eyes are set on the vast hydrocarbon resources, India officially maintains that its interest in the council is purely scientific.
The eight-member council includes the US, Russia, Norway and Sweden.
In 2007, an Indian five-member team of scientists visited the International Arctic Research facilities at Ny-Ålesund.
They initiated three projects in atmospheric science, microbiology, and earth science and glaciology during its month-long stay.
With Himadri, India had then become the 11th country to have established a full-fledged research station here in the league of countries such as Italy, China, Japan, South Korea, The Netherlands, Sweden and Norway.