NEW DELHI (Sputnik) — The proposed permanent station has also been given the postal code 403001. India's existing permanent station, Maitri, which is the country's second in the continent and close to Russia's Novolazarevskaya Station, is 28 years old and needs to be replaced and upgraded, Madhavan Nair Rajeevan, secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), said. The allocation of the postal code signals India's intent to maintain a permanent base and not just a permanent research station, explained Rajeevan.
"Maitri is getting old and we will be building a new research station in Antarctica to replace it. We also have plans to purchase a ship that will enable our research teams to travel to the continent. It may not be an ice-cutter but a vessel that can maneuver through that zone. The Ministry of Law & Justice is also in the process of framing laws for those who travel to Antarctica. Though we have completed nearly 37 years in Antarctica, we don't have any laws there," PTI quoted him as saying.
The ministry also plans to augment funding for ocean research and awaiting the government's approval to embark on a US$ 1.47 billion multi-dimensional project by year end. The main focus of the project will be on mineral and undersea resources exploration.
A few months back, the ministry signed a contract with the International Seabed Authority (ISA) for the exploration of Poly-Metallic Sulphides (PMS). India has been allotted 10,000 square km along the Central Indian Ridge and Southwest Indian Ridge region of the Indian Ocean for this exploration.
The Maitri station was built in 1989 and is equipped to carry out research in various disciplines, such as biology, earth sciences, glaciology, atmospheric sciences, meteorology, cold region engineering, communication, human physiology, and medicine. It is located five km from Russia's Novolazarevskaya Station.
In 2012, the two countries led a joint expedition between the Field Museum, the Geological Survey of India, the Russian Antarctic Expedition, and the SETI Institute.