India @ The North Pole
India commissioned its permanent research base at the North Pole which will enable scientists to carry out studies on a range of subjects including climate change in one of the most cleanest environments on earth.The research station — Himadri — was inaugurated by earth sciences minister Kapil Sibal at Ny-Alesund, on the west coast of Spitsbergen, the largest island in the Svalbard Archipelago of Norway.Situated only 1,200 km from the north pole, Ny-Alesund is the northernmost international research village, managed by Kings Bay, the Norwegian government-held company that runs the logistics at the research station.The research station was set up following two expeditions by Indian scientists to Ny-Alesund in the last 11 months. The maiden expedition to the Arctic was launched in August last year under the leadership of Rasik Ravindra, director, National Centre for Antarctic & Ocean Research, Goa which was followed up by another team of seven scientists led by Prof AK Gwal of Barkatullah university, Bhopal, who spent four weeks in Ny-Alesund in March.The research base in the north pole comes three decades after India set up a permanent station at Dakshin Gangotri in Antarctica. Initially, Himadri would be manned by Indian scientists on a project-to-project basis and later on converted into a round-the-year station, as is the case in Antarctica. India has access to Svalbard because of a treaty with Norway, which has sovereign rights over the area. India has become the 11th country in the world to have a research station in Ny-Alesund, the others being Norway, Germany, Britain, Italy, France, Japan, South Korea, China, the Netherlands and Sweden. Two-third of Ny-Alesund, which is spread over 63,000 sq km, is permanently under ice, but the climate is mild in comparison to other areas near the north pole. The mean temperature in the coldest month of February is minus 14 degrees while in the warmest month of July, it is five degrees celsius.