Nearly 40 years after India first signed the Antarctic Treaty, the government has brought in a draft Indian Antarctic Bill-2022 to regulate and monitor activities at its research stations in the frozen continent.
- Definition of Antarctica: All the Land and ice shelves to the south of 60o latitude.
- Features: 14 million Sq.km + No Indigenous Population + Global Common + Principles of Peace, Science and Environmental protection.
- Year: 12 countries signed Antarctic Treaty.
- Membership: 54 Countries (Including India)
- Antarctica should be used only for peaceful purposes. No country should build military bases.
- Freedom of scientific investigation in Antarctica.
- No country should claim sovereignty over Antarctica based on setting up of Research stations.
- No Nuclear explosions or disposal of radioactive wastes
- Countries to take appropriate efforts to abide by the provisions of the treaty.
India and Antarctica:
- India signed the Antarctic Treaty in 1983.
- India ratified the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources in 1985.
- India signed Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty in 1998. (Madrid Protocol)
- India’s research stations in Antarctica: Dakshin Gangotri (De-commissioned now); Maitri and Bharati. Managed by National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR), Goa under the Ministry of Earth Sciences.
- Nov 2021: India launched its 41st Scientific Expedition to Antarctica.
Indian Antarctic Bill, 2022
Rationale: To Give effect to Antarctic Treaty and Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty + To prevent unlawful activities such as illegal mining, pollution etc. in Research Stations
Applicability: Indian Citizen + Foreign Citizen + Company registered in India + any vessel or aircraft registered in India or outside India (provided it is part of Indian expedition to Antarctica)
Apex Level Committee: Committee on Antarctic Governance and Environmental Protection headed by the Secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences to monitor implementation and ensure compliance with the relevant international laws for the protection of Antarctic environment.
Regulated Activities: All Indian expeditions to Antarctica + Indian Station in Antarctica + Vessel and aircraft entering Antarctica + Introduction of non-native animals and plants into Antarctica.
How activities would be regulated? Permit issued by the Committee on Antarctic Governance and Environmental Protection or Written authorisation from other parties to the Madrid Protocol.
Prohibited Activities: Nuclear explosion + disposal of radioactive waste material + specified substances and products.
Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR)
The CCAMLR was established by the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources. It was created to address the concern of unregulated increase in krill catches in the Southern Ocean that could be detrimental to Antarctic marine ecosystems, particularly for seabirds, seals, whales and fish that depend on krill for food.
25 States and EU are members of this body. India is a member.
They are small crustaceans which are found in all the world’s oceans. They feed on phytoplankton and zooplankton and are the main source of food for many larger animals.
In the Southern Ocean, the Antarctic Krill species is one the animals with largest total biomass.
They are main prey of baleen whales.
Krills display vertical migration during the day, acting as feed for predators at surface at night and at deeper levels during the day.