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Post Offices in Antarctica

Context

  • Recently, the Chief Postmaster General Maharashtra Circle inaugurated the Bharati Branch Post Office at Bharati Station of Antarctica accompanied by the introduction of a new PIN code, MH-1718.

Brief History of Post Offices in Antarctica

  • In 1984, shortly after the inaugural expedition to Antarctica, India established its first-ever post office at Dakshin Gangotri — the pioneering scientific base.
  • The eventual submersion of Dakshin Gangotri under the ice during the late 1980s led to its decommissioning.
  • On January 26, 1990, a new post office branch emerged at India’s Maitri research station in Antarctica.

Maitri and Bharati Post Offices

  • These are research bases of India in Antarctica spanning a distance of 3,000 km.
  • They stand as a testament to the nation’s enduring presence in the polar landscape, both falling under the purview of the Goa Postal Division.
  • In practical terms, letters intended for Antarctica find their way to the National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR) in Goa, the pivotal hub for India’s polar endeavors.
India and Antarctica

– India’s engagement with Antarctica, the southernmost continent and site of the South Pole, traces back to 1981.

– It marked the initiation of the Indian Antarctic Programme, a multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional program under the control of the NCPOR, Ministry of Earth Sciences.

a. It gained global acceptance with India’s signing of the Antarctic Treaty and subsequent construction of the Dakshin Gangotri (in 1983), Maitri (in 1989), and Bharati (in 2012) were commissioned.

b. Currently, India has two operational research stations in Antarctica: Maitri and Bharati.

–The Indian Antarctic Bill 2022

a. It provides a regulatory framework and legal mechanisms for India’s Antarctic activities.

b. It aims at having India’s national measures for protecting the Antarctic environment as well as the dependent and associated ecosystem.

c. It proposes to set up the Indian Antarctic Authority (IAA) under the Ministry of Earth Sciences as the apex decision-making authority.