Thirty six years ago India made a history by putting its foot in the ice of Antarctica. Over these 30 years many explorations and expeditions have been carried out by the National Centre for Antarctic Research and Ocean Research of India.
The first Antarctic Programme
- The programme was initiated in the year 1981 with a team of 21 members with the only aim to conduct a scientific research in the frozen continent.
- After many discussions and negotiations, the expedition started from Goa on December 6 1981 on Marine Vessel Polar Circle – a chartered ship from Norway.
- The Indian troupe landed on the continent on January 9 1982 and returned to Goa on February 21 1982, thus ending the 77 day expedition.
The three Indian Research stations in Antarctica
Till now, under the environmental protocol of the Antarctic Treaty 1959 India has set up three research centres:
- This was the first Indian research station established in Antarctica under the third Antarctic Programme.
- It was established in the year 1983-84 and is located 2500 Kilometres away from the South Pole. The Indian team spent the whole winter here to conduct their research.
- In 1989, it was made a base camp for the Indians in Antarctica.
- The Indian Army helped to build this research station and it took 8 weeks to complete the construction by a team of 81 members.
- On 26th January, 1984 Indian republic day was celebrated here along with the Soviet and the East German Scientists.
- In the year 1988, an ice free rocky region in the Schirmacher Oasis was selected to build one more Indian research station to be called Maitri.
- The building is made out of steel stilts and has passed all tests of time. The experiments of geology, geography and medicine are carried out here.
- The building can shadow 25 members in both summers and winters, and 40 in summer facility that comprise of containerized living modules.
- This station has a main building, fuel station, fuel farm and a fresh water lake as well known as priyadarshini pump house.
- Maitri is gateway of Indian Scientists to carry out research on interior mountains of Antarctica and every year it hosts teams in summers as well as winters for research here.
- About 3000 Kilometres from Maitri, another research station, Bharati was established in 2015.
- The station can support 47 people on twin sharing basis in the main building during winters as well as summers along with additional capacity of 25 in emergency summer camps in summers, hence making a total capacity of 72.
- The exciting factor of this station is that it is made out of 134 recycled shipping containers which help the researchers work decently despite the harsh conditions outside.
- After Bharati, Indian became an elite member of the club of 9 nations that have more than one station in the region.
- Bharati can be dissembled any time from the region without leaving a single brick behind which is in line with the Antarctic Treaty System.
All this have been done and facilitated by the National Research Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research who is responsible to provide all the back-end support to the team. The department selects the right candidates and after subsequent tests, they are trained in the Himalayas for survival in the Antarctic.