NORTHERN SEA ROUTE
WHY IN NEWS ?
- Recently it is seen that Murmansk port is witnessing the rising trend of Indian involvement in cargo traffic.
- It is popularly called the capital of the Arctic region and the beginning point of the Northern Sea Route (NSR).
IMPORTANCE OF ARCTIC REGION FOR INDIA:
- The region constitutes the largest unexplored prospective area for hydrocarbons remaining on the Earth.
- It is estimated that the region may hold over 40 per cent of the current global reserves of oil and gas.
- There may also be significant reserves of coal, zinc and silver.
- However, the government’s Arctic Policy of 2022 mentions that the country’s approach to economic development of the region is guided by UN Sustainable Development Goals.
- The vulnerability of the Arctic region with the North Pole at its centre, to unprecedented changes in the climate may have an impact on India in terms of economic security, water security and sustainability.
INDIA’S ENGAGEMENT WITH THE ARCTIC REGION:
- India’s engagement with the Arctic can be traced to the signing of the Svalbard Treaty in February 1920 in Paris.
- India is also undertaking several scientific studies and research in the Arctic region.
- This encompasses atmospheric, biological, marine, hydrological and glaciological studies.
- Apart from setting up a research station, Himadri, at NyÅlesund, Svalbard, in 2008, the country launched its inaugural multisensor moored observatory and northernmost atmospheric laboratory in 2014 and 2016 respectively.
- Till last year, thirteen expeditions to the Arctic were successfully conducted.
- In May 2013, India became an observer State of the Arctic Council along with five others including China.
ABOUT NORTH SEA ROUTE (NSR) :
- The Northern Sea Route (NSR), the shortest shipping route for freight transportation between Europe and countries of the Asia Pacific region, straddles four seas of the Arctic Ocean.
- Running to 5,600 km, the route begins at the boundary between the Barents and the Kara seas (Kara Strait) and ends in the Bering Strait (Provideniya Bay).
- Distance savings along the NSR can be as high as 50% compared to the currently used shipping lanes via Suez or Panama.
- The 2021 blockage of the Suez Canal, which forms part of the widely used maritime route involving Europe and Asia, has led to greater attention on the NSR.
WORKING TO MAKE NSR NAVIGABLE :
- As the seas of the Arctic Ocean remain icebound during most of the year, the icebreaking assistance is organised to ensure safe navigation along the NSR.
- Russia is the only country in the world with a nuclear powered icebreaker fleet, according to Rosatom State Nuclear Energy Corporation, the NSR infrastructure operator.
- In December 1959, the world’s first nuclear icebreaker, “Lenin,” was put into operation, unveiling the new chapter in the NSR development. It was decommissioned 30 years later.
- Today, FSUE Atomflot, a subsidiary of Rosatom, acts as the fleet operator of Nuclear powered icebreakers.
- The fleet comprises seven nuclear powered icebreakers, apart from one nuclear container ship.
- Three more are expected to be commissioned between 2024 and 2027.
IMPORTANCE OF NSR FOR INDIA :
- The record supplies of energy resources for the Indian economy are possible due to such a reliable and safe transport artery as the NSR.
- The NSR assumes importance, given India’s geographical position and the major share of its trade associated with sea transportation.
- The Chennai-Vladivostok Maritime Corridor (CVMC) project, an outcome of signing of the memorandum of intent between the two countries in September 2019, is being examined as one linking with another organise international container transit through the NSR.
- Experts are also discussing the feared possibility of China and Russia gaining collective influence over the NSR.
- The NSR development plan until 2035, as approved by the Russian government last year, sets the cargo traffic target as 80 million tonnes and 150 million tonnes for 2024 and 2030.
- Indian companies should participate in projects related to the NSR, as expected by Rosatom.
SYLLABUS: MAINS, GS-3,ECONOMY
SOURCE: THE HINDU