|Introduction: Provide a brief introduction on The Indian Antarctic Bill, 2022|
Body: Write 4-5 points on the requirement of the bill and 4-5 points on the significance of the bill.
Conclusion: conclude with some suggestive statements.
The Indian Antarctic Bill, 2022 envisages regulating visits and activities to the Antarctic, where India has set up research stations Maitri (1989) and Bharati (2012). The draft bill is the first domestic legislation with regard to Antarctica in India. The Bill now puts into place a comprehensive list of regulations related to Antarctica, for scientific expeditions, as well as for individuals, companies and tourists. It also prescribes penal provisions for certain serious violations.
- The Antarctica Treaty, 1983 made it mandatory for the 54 signatory countries to specify laws governing territories on which their stations are located.
- There is growing concern over preserving the pristine Antarctic environment (India is also signatory to Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Resources) and ocean around Antarctica from exploitation of marine living resources and human presence in Antarctica.
- The continuing and growing presence of Indian scientists in Antarctica demands a domestic legislation on Antarctica consistent with its obligations as a member of the Antarctic Treaty.
- There is need to enable India’s courts to deal with disputes or crimes committed in parts of Antarctica, and help build credibility regarding India’s participation.
- There are no rules to check any unlawful activity happening in the territory involving India’s research stations.
- A domestic legislation will further provide more validity to the Antarctic Treaty, and subsequent protocols, of which India is a signatory.
- Power to courts: It extends 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. So far there has been no remedy for crimes committed during an expedition.
- Boost to tourism: The Bill now enables Indian tour operators to operate in Antarctica, although, for commercial fishing, this is limited by strict regulations.
- Environment protection: It will allow the government to establish a committee on Antarctic governance and environmental protection to implement and ensure compliance with the relevant international laws, emissions standards and rules of protection.
- Legal framework: The proposed law will provide a harmonious policy framework for India’s Antarctic activities through a well-established legal mechanism and ease activities of the Indian Antarctic programme, including management tourism and sustainable development of fisheries.
- A dedicated fund: It will ensure protection of the Antarctic environment.
The proposed legislation will aim to provide a regulatory framework and help in efficient and effective operations of the Indian Antarctic programme. It will facilitate India’s interest in the management of sustainable development of resources in Antarctic waters.