India Post opens third post office in Antarctica

April 5th 2024, INDIA’s NCPOR 24th Foundation Day
India’s National Center for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR) did organize an engaging cultural program titled “From Labs to Stage.” This unique event showcased the diverse talents of NCPOR’s scientists and staff, bringing them together in a celebration of creativity and entertainment.

In this historic moment, as a part of the foundation day celebrations, the Indian Postal Services, in collaboration with NCPOR, inaugurated a new Branch Post Office at Bharati Station (WAP IND-Ø4) in Antarctica. April 5 was chosen because it marked the 24th Foundation Day of National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR), Goa.

Dr. Shailendra Saini, group director (Antarctic Operations), said: “This is a symbolic yet milestone effort. Our scientists do have access to modern means of communication including WhatsApp, albeit at slow speeds, so they do keep in contact with their families. But the souvenir value of receiving a letter stamped ‘Antarctica’  in an era when people have stopped writing letters altogether — holds great importance. We will collect the letters once a year and despatch them to our headquarters in Goa from where they will be mailed to the scientists’ families.”

Chief Postmaster General Mumbai, Shri K.K. Sharma, officiated the opening, unveiling a special Picture Postcard of Bharati Station that was released on the occasion with the presence  of Shri. R. P. Patil, Director Postal Services, Goa Region, Dr. Thamban Meloth, Director NCPOR, Dr. Rahul Mohan, Group Director and Scientist at NCPOR and the Team leaders of Maitri and Bharati Stations.

K K Sharma said the new venture “underscores the commitment of the postal fraternity to serve even the most remote corners of the globe. The department had earlier installed a post office at Dakshin Gangotri Station in 1984 and another at Maitri Station in 1990. He commended the efforts of all the people involved in making this launch possible and expressed confidence in the postmaster stationed at the Bharati Branch Post Office to facilitate meaningful connections through the exchange of letters with loved ones.

India’s first post office in Antarctica was setup in 1984 at the Dakshin Gangotri Station, which was the country’s first scientific base there, according to a report by Indian Express. Around 10,000 letters and mails had been posted and cancelled at the icy continent’s post office. Significance of post office with Indian address in Antarctica The Antarctica has 2 research stations – Maitri and Bharati – both are a part of the Goa postal division. 
Apart from senior postal department officials, a number of scientists working in Antarctica and was followed by the defacing of the stamps on the postcards by the first Branch Postmaster of Bharati Post Office, Shri. Sudhanshu.
Dr. Thamban Meloth, Director of NCPOR, highlighted the significance of having an Indian Branch Post Office in the icy continent of Antarctica.
Dr. Anand Kumar Singh presided over the function.

In the list taken from the dedicated Indian philately history of Abhai Mishra’s book (see Among the Honorary Post Masters of India’s Antarctic Post Office from the 7th Indian Scientific Expedition to Antarctica (ISEA) through the 32nd ISEA, we found our good friend Bhagwati Prasad Semwal  (picture aside) Licensed Ham Radio operator , callsigns: VU3BPZ, Ex-AT10BP, VU3BPZ/P, ex-Antarctican participating the ISEAs XX, XXIV, XXIX and XXXII at Bharati as 8T2BH,  who was Post Master himself  at Maitri Station.

The first Indian Scientific Expedition to Antarctica was initiated in 1981.

In 1988-89, the Dakshin Gangotri Station (WAP IND-Ø1) was decommissioned as it was submerged in the continent’s ice and in January 26 1990, a new post office branch was built at the continent’s India Maitri Research Station (WAP IND-Ø3), according to the publication. For over 35 years since then, placed in blank envelopes, letters and postcards were sent to the Maitri station’s post office for cancellation. According to the publication, now, almost 40 years later, the letters which are to be sent to Antarctica, will now be having a new Pin Code – MH-1718.

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TNX and credit NCPOR