Recalling India’s Antarctica activities
Parliament has just passed the Indian Antarctic Bill, 2022 to assist in protecting the frozen continent where India operates two research centres and is part of several scientific explorations. The entire region is demilitarised and is used for scientific and peaceful purposes as per the Antarctic Treaty.
What is the Indian Antarctic Bill?
- Regulatory framework -The bill provides a regulatory framework for India’s Antarctic activities through legal mechanisms which will help in the efficient operation of the Indian Antarctic Programme.
- Areas of cooperation-The bill plans to facilitate India’s involvement in the management of tourism in the Antarctic and the sustainable development of fisheries. It also aims to increase India’s international visibility and credibility in Polar governance for cooperation in scientific studies and logistics.
- Apex decision-making authority -The Bill plans to set up Indian Antarctic Authority (IAA) as an apex decision-making authority under the Earth Sciences Ministry, to provide an accountable process for supervision of Antarctic research and expeditions.
What is the Antarctic treaty?
- Countries Involved-The Antarctic Treaty was signed on December 01, 1959, by 12 countries: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Chile, France, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, the USSR, the UK and the US.
- Objective-Their objective was to demilitarise Antarctica, promote international scientific cooperation, and to set aside territorial sovereignty disputes.
- Other Convention-Following the Antarctic treaty, member countries signed the ‘Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources’ at Canberra in 1980 which India ratified in 1985. The countries also signed the ‘Protocol on Environmental Protection’ to the Antarctic Treaty (the Madrid Protocol) in 1991, which designates the continent as 'a natural reserve, devoted to peace and science.