The Indian Antarctic Bill, 2022

  • IASbaba
  • July 25, 2022
  • 0
Environment & Ecology, Governance, Indian Polity & Constitution
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In News: The Indian Antarctic Bill, 2022 was cleared by the Lok Sabha in the ongoing monsoon session.

  • The Bill seeks to give effect to the Antarctic Treaty, the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, and the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty.
  • It also seeks to protect the Antarctic environment and regulate activities in the region.

Key Features of the Bill


  • The provisions of the Bill will apply to any person, vessel or aircraft that is a part of an Indian expedition to Antarctica under a permit issued under the Bill.

Central committee:

  • The central government will establish a Committee on Antarctic Governance and Environmental Protection.
  • The Committee will be chaired by the Secretary of the Ministry of Earth Sciences.
  • The functions of the Committee include:
  • granting permits for various activities,
  • implementing and ensuring compliance of relevant international laws for protection of Antarctic environment,
  • obtaining and reviewing relevant information provided by parties to the Treaty, Convention, and Protocol, and
  • negotiating fees/charges with other parties for activities in Antarctica.

Need for permit: permit will be required for various activities such as:

  • an Indian expedition to enter or remain in Antarctica,
  • a person to enter or remain in an Indian station in Antarctica,
  • a vessel or aircraft registered in India to enter or remain in Antarctica,
  • a person or vessel to drill, dredge or excavate for mineral resources, or collect samples of mineral resources,
  • activities which may harm native species, and
  • waste disposal by a person, vessel or aircraft in Antarctica.
  • Before a permit is granted by the Committee, the applicant has to carry out an environmental impact assessment of the proposed activities.
  • Moreover, a permit must not be granted unless a waste management plan has been prepared for the expedition by the Committee.

Prohibited activities: The Bill prohibits certain activities in Antarctica including:

  • nuclear explosion or disposal of radioactive wastes,
  • introduction of non-sterile soil, and
  • discharge of garbage, plastic or other substance into the sea which is harmful to the marine environment.

Offences and penalties: The Bill specifies penalties for contravention of its provisions.

Other important provisions

  • It also directs creating a fund called the Antarctic fund that will be used for protecting the Antarctic environment.
  • The Bill also extends the jurisdiction of Indian courts to Antarctica and lays out penal provision for crimes on the continent by Indian citizens, foreign citizens who are a part of Indian expeditions, or are in the precincts of Indian research stations.

Antarctic Treaty

  • The Antarctic treaty remains the only example of a single treaty that governs a whole continent.
  • The Antarctic Treaty was signed between 12 countries in Washington on 1st December 1959 for making the Antarctic Continent a demilitarized zone to be preserved for scientific research only.
  • The twelve original signatories are Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Chile, France, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the UK and the US.
  • It entered into force in 1961 and has since been acceded by many other nations.
  • Currently it has 54 parties. India became a member of this treaty in 1983.

Its objectives are simple yet unique in international relations. They are:

  • to demilitarize Antarctica, to establish it as a zone free of nuclear tests and the disposal of radioactive waste, and to ensure that it is used for peaceful purposes only;
  • to promote international scientific cooperation in Antarctica;
  • to set aside disputes over territorial sovereignty.
  • The Treaty parties meet each year at the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting.
  • They have adopted over 300 recommendations and negotiated separate international agreements, of which three are still in use.
  • These, together with the original Treaty provide the rules which govern activities in Antarctica.
  • Collectively they are known as the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS).

The three international agreements are:

  • Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Seals (1972)
  • Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (1980)
  • Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty (1991).

Source: Indian Express

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