India aims to have its first Polar Research Vessel (PRV) in the next five years in order to sustain its bases in Antarctica, Union Earth Sciences Minister Kiren Rijiju said on Thursday.
Replying to a query in the Rajya Sabha, he said a proposal regarding the ship is expected to go for Cabinet approval during the current financial year.
He noted that in 2014, the Cabinet had approved ₹1,051 crore to acquire the vessel. A tender was also floated for the same.
The government later abandoned the project as the company which had got the order to build the ship raised certain conditions that were not part of the tender process.
"However another effort was initiated and now, we are ready with the proposal to be moved by the EFC (Expenditure Finance Committee)," Mr. Rijiju said.
The cost of the vessel is now estimated to be ₹2,600 crore, he noted.
"I am hopeful that in this financial year, we should be ready to propose this estimate and move in the Cabinet. In the next five years, we should be ready with the ship," Mr. Rijiju stated.
He noted that the government is in talks with other countries which have expertise in making such ships.
Mr. Rijiju, however, noted that the government would like to manufacture the ship in the country itself.
"I am hopeful that in the next five years, we should be able to build the ship, hopefully in India," he said.
India currently has three research base stations in the polar region.
Mr. Rijiju said the country needs ice breaker ships to have continuous access to the research stations which are required for various reasons, especially to have a better understanding of climate change and other research matters.
A PRV not only performs research and logistics in the polar region but can also serve as a research platform for scientists to undertake research in the ocean realm, including the Southern Ocean.