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Indian Antarctic Bill 2022

 

Antarctic Bill UPSC: Relevance

  • GS 3: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space.

 

Indian Antarctic Bill 2022: Context

  • Recently, the Government has tabled a draft Indian Antarctic Bill-2022 in Parliament to regulate and monitor activities at its research stations in the Antarctic.

 

Indian Antarctic Bill 2022: Key points

  • The Bill has been introduced after nearly 40 years of India signing the Antarctic Treaty.
  • The Bill is the first domestic legislation with regard to Antarctica in India.
  • The primary aim of the Bill is to bring in penal provisions for breaking the law in Antarctica.
  • The Antarctic Bill has a comprehensive list of permitted activities on the continent and prohibitions.

भारतीय अंटार्कटिक विधेयक 2022

Indian Antarctic Bill 2022: Why important?

  • 27 countries already have domestic legislations on Antarctica. It is time that India don’t lag behind.
  • India has been sending expeditions for the past 40 years, however, these expeditions have been circumscribed by international law.
  • The ministry believes that activities in Antarctica will increase in the coming years, making the enforcement of a domestic set of protocols essential.

 

Indian Antarctic Bill 2022 -_3.1

 

Indian Antarctic Bill 2022: Key provisions of the Bill

  • The most significant part of the Bill is extending the jurisdiction of Indian courts to Antarctica, for crimes on the continent by Indian citizens, or foreign citizens who are a part of Indian expeditions.
  • Allow fishing: While India does not carry out commercial fishing in the area, the Bill now provides for this activity. However, strict guidelines are in place in accordance with international law.
  • The Bill has listed strict guidelines and a system of permits, which will be issued by a government-appointed committee, without which any expedition or individual will not be allowed to enter Antarctica.
  • The Bill also prohibits drilling, dredging, excavation or collection of mineral resources or even doing anything to identify where such mineral deposits occur, barring for scientific research with a permit.
  • The Bill also prohibits damaging native plants; flying or landing helicopters or operating vessels that could disturb birds and seals; using firearms that could disturb the birds and animals; remove soil or any biological material native to Antarctica; engage in any activity that could adversely change the habitat of birds and animals, or harm them.
  • The Bill also provides that no new animals, birds, plants or microscopic organisms that are not native to Antarctica will be introduced in the frozen continent.
  • Violators can face imprisonment as well as penalties. For an instance, for dumping of nuclear waste or a nuclear explosion, the imprisonment can range between 20 years to life imprisonment with a fine of Rs 50 crore.
  • The Bill also allows Indian tour operators to operate in Antarctica after acquiring a permit.

 

Indian Antarctic Bill 2022 -_4.1

 

Global intervention in Antarctic

 

What is the Antarctic Treaty?

  • The Antarctic Treaty was signed in 1959 by 12 countries.
  • 12 members: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Chile, French Republic, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Union of South Africa, USSR, the UK of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the US of America.
  • The Treaty came into force in 1961.
  • The Treaty covers the area south of 60°S latitude.
  • As of now, 54 nations have become the signatories of this treaty, however only 29 nations have a right to vote at the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meetings, which includes India.
  • Antarctic Treaty India: India signed the Antarctic Treaty in 1983 and received consultative status the same year.
  • Objective of the treaty: The objectives of the treaty are to demilitarize Antarctica and establish it as a zone used for peaceful research activities and to set aside any disputes regarding territorial sovereignty, thereby ensuring international cooperation.

 

Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR)

  • The CCAMLR was set up in 1980 for the protection and preservation of the Antarctic environment and, in particular, for the preservation and conservation of marine living resources in Antarctica.

 

Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty

  • It was signed in 1991 and came into force in 1998. It designates Antarctica as a “natural reserve, devoted to peace and science”.

 

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