UPSC Current Affairs

The Indian Antarctic Bill, 2022

Indian Antarctic Bill - Ekam IAS

The Indian Antarctic Bill, 2022

  • Lok Sabha passes Indian Antarctic Bill, 2022.
  • India had been a signatory to the Antarctica Treaty since 1983 that encumbered India to specify a set of laws governing portions of the continent where it had its research bases.
  • The Treaty made it mandatory for the 54 signatory countries to specify laws governing territories on which their stations are located.
  • India is also signatory to treaties such as the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources and the Commission for Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, both of which enjoin India to help preserve the pristine nature of the continent.
Indian Antarctic Bill,2022 :
  • The Indian Antarctic Bill, 2022 was introduced in Lok Sabha on April 1, 2022.
  • 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.
  • The Bill will apply to Indians, foreign citizens, corporations, firms and joint ventures functioning in India, and any vessel or aircraft that is either Indian or part of an Indian expedition.
  • The bill gives Indian courts jurisdiction over crimes committed on the continent by Indian citizens or foreign citizens participating in Indian expedition.
  • It prescribes penal provisions for certain serious violations.
  • It prohibits Indian expedition to Antarctica or carrying of certain activities in Antarctica without a permit or the written authorisation of another party to the protocol.
  • It provides for the constitution of the fund to be called the Antarctic fund which shall be applied towards the welfare of Antarctic research work and protection of Antarctic environment.
  • It provide for inspection by an officer designated by the Central government as an Inspector and to constitute an inspection team to carry out inspections in Antarctica.
Committee on Antarctic Governance and Environmental Protection:
  • 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.
  • 10 members, not below the rank of joint secretary, will be nominated from various Ministries and organisations such as defence, external affairs, National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research, and National Security Council Secretariat.
  • In addition, two experts from Antarctic environment and geo-political fields will be nominated by the central government.
The functions of the Committee include:
  1. granting permits for various activities
  2. implementing and ensuring compliance of relevant international laws for protection of Antarctic environment
  3. obtaining and reviewing relevant information provided by parties to the Treaty, Convention, and Protocol
  4. negotiating fees/charges with other parties for activities in Antarctica.
Objectives of Antarctica Bill:
  • To demilitarize
  • To establish it as a zone free of nuclear tests and the disposal of radioactive waste.
  • To ensure that it is used for peaceful purposes only.
  • To promote international scientific cooperation in Antarctica.
  • To set aside disputes over territorial sovereignty.
Model Question

Q. With reference to the Indian Antarctic Bill, 2022, consider the following statements :

  1. The Bill seeks to give effect on the Antarctic Treaty of 1963.
  2. The Bill is applicable to Indian citizens as well as foreign citizens.

Which of the statements given above is /are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer : C

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