Ministry of Science & Technology03-February, 2005 16:38 IST
Facilities at Maitri Station in Antarctica to be modernized -Shri Kapil Sibal
The Minister for Science and Technology and Ocean Development Shri Kapil Sibal, now in the icy continent of Antarctica, announced today that the facilities at Maitri Station of India will be modernized and the fleet of Piston Bully vehicles, meant to travel on ice, will be increased. Shri Sibal, the first Indian Minister to visit the glacial continent, directed the leader of the 24th Indian Antarctica Expedition, Dr. Rajesh Asthana of the Geological Survey of India to prepare the modernization plan for both the Maitri Station and the Summer Camps. The Minister also announced the decision to increase the time slot for every scientist to speak to their near and dear ones at home. Shri Sibal inaugurated a new platform constructed to provide logistical support to Maitri.

Shri Sibal is leading a high level delegation to Antarctica to take stock of the various operational and scientific activities and to evolve a plan for strengthening the Antarctic Programme of India.

Shri Sibal, who is on a three-day visit to Antarctica is scheduled to visit various laboratories around the Maitri Station.

Antarctica, the seventh continent of the World, is a unique land mass, 98% of which is covered by ice and was once contiguous with India as part of Gondwana land. In recent years, this continent which is much larger in size than India and China put together, is emerging as an important key in the understanding of global and environment concerns. Its unique features have provided scientists with special opportunities over the last 35 years to investigate the origin of the continents, the pollution of the globe and changes in world climate. Meteorology from Antarctica has provided the factors that are essential in forecasting the weather patterns of the southern hemisphere and the circulation pattern of the world ocean system.

Since 1981, the Department of Ocean Development has been launching scientific research expeditions on annual basis to Antarctica to utilize its singular environment as a great natural laboratory for scientific investigations. To carry out its scientific programmes India established the first station at Dakshin Gangotri in 1983. The second permanent station Maitra was established at Schimacher ranges in 1989. Dakshin Gangotri is now being used as supply base and transit camp. Maitri Station is manned throughout the year for scientific activities. The station is specially designed and built to withstand the vagaries of the extreme climate of Antarctica. The single storied building is well equipped with sophisticated laboratory facilities to carry out scientific research. Basic amenities are provided to make the stay for the team comfortable and result oriented. The station is equipped with essential communication links with India through satellite and High Frequency Band Transmission (HF).

SK/SPS/SB
(Release ID :6881)