Lower House passes Indian Antarctic Bill, 2022
Recently Lok Sabha has passed the Indian Antarctic Bill, 2022.
This bill will give effect to the Antarctic Treaty. In addition, it will bring the research stations set up by India in the Antarctic region within the ambit of India’s domestic laws.
The Antarctic Treaty was signed in the year 1959. This treaty came into force in the year 1961.
At present, the total number of parties to this treaty is 54. India is also a party to it.
Salient Features of the Bill-
- It prohibits Indian expedition to Antarctica without the permit or written approval of any other party to the Antarctica Treaty.
- It provides for better research work in Antarctica and the creation of a fund for the protection of the environment of this icy continent.
- It extends the jurisdiction of Indian courts to Antarctica. Also, it makes penal provisions in respect of offenses committed by Indian nationals and foreign nationals connected with Indian operations in Antarctica.
- It provides for the establishment of the Committee on Antarctica Governance and Environment Protection. This committee will monitor, implement and ensure compliance with international laws and emission standards.
- It prohibits mining, dredging, and other activities that threaten the natural location of Antarctica.
Significance of the Bill-
- This bill regulates travel and activities in Antarctica. It also sets the basic rules for future disputes.
- It prevents exploitation of marine life resources and human presence in Antarctica.
- Opens the way for Indian researchers to explore this uninhabited area.
India’s efforts in Antarctica
- India had signed the Antarctica Treaty in the year 1983. Soon after, he was given the status of an advisor.
- India had also signed the Madrid Protocol. It came into force in the year 1998. This gives Antarctica the status of a natural reserve dedicated to ‘peace and science’.
India is also a member of the following:
- National Council of Managers of the Antarctic Program (COMNAP);
- Scientific Committee on Antarctica Research (SCAR) and
- Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR).
Features of Antarctica:
- Antarctica is the southernmost continent on Earth. It geographically includes the South Pole and is located in the Antarctic region of the southern hemisphere.
- Spread over 1.4 million square kilometers (5.4 million sq mi), it is the fifth largest continent in the world.
- India has two research centers on the Antarctic continent under the Indian Antarctic Program – Maitri (established in 1989) in Schirmacher Hills, and Bharati (established in 2012) in Larsemann Hills.
- India officially acceded to the Antarctic Treaty System in August 1983.
Source – The Hindu