New draft policy also focuses on oil and gas exploration in the region
India has unveiled a new draft ‘Arctic’ policy that, among other things, commits to expanding scientific research, “sustainable tourism” and mineral oil and gas exploration in the Arctic region.
The draft policy is open to public comments until January 26 and has been prepared after deliberations among several ministries.
India expects the Goa-based National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research to lead scientific research and act as a nodal body to coordinate among various scientific bodies to promote domestic scientific research capacities by expanding “earth sciences, biological sciences, geosciences, climate change and space related programmes, dove-tailed with Arctic imperatives in Indian Universities.”
Other objectives of the policy include “…putting in place Arctic related programmes for mineral/oil and gas exploration in petroleum research institutes and encouraging tourism and hospitality sectors in building specialised capacities and awareness to engage with Arctic enterprises,” according to the says the document available online at www.arcticpolicy.nic.in.
The loss of sea ice, ice caps, and warming of the ocean and atmosphere would lower salinity in the ocean, increase the temperature differential between land and oceans in the tropical regions, dry subtropical areas and increase precipitation at higher latitudes.
“Arctic research will help India’s scientific community to study melting rates of the third pole — the Himalayan glaciers, which are endowed with the largest freshwater reserves in the world outside the geographic poles,” the document notes.
India launched its first scientific expedition to the Arctic in 2007 and set up a research station ‘Himadri’ in the international Arctic research base at Ny-Ålesund in Spitsbergen, Svalbard, Norway. It has two other observatories in Kongsforden and Gruvebadet. Himadri is manned for about 180 days a year.
Since its establishment, over 300 Indian researchers have worked in the station. India has sent 13 expeditions to the Arctic since 2007 .