A law, this time for Antarctica

  • Preparing for a populous future in which Antarctica — the world’s only continent without countries and citizens—may see more tourists, over-exploited fisheries, disputes and crime, India is drafting a dedicated Antarctica policy and a law that will likely be tabled in the winter session of Parliament.
  • Ministry of Earth Sciences officials tasked with drafting the law said India, being among the countries that have acceded to the Antarctica Treaty, is expected to have a clear policy on the consequences of its activities in the region.
  • The treaty is framed to ensure ‘in the interests of all mankind that Antarctica shall continue forever to be used exclusively for peaceful purposes and shall not become the scene or object of international discord.’
  • To this end it prohibits military activity, except in support of science; prohibits nuclear explosions and the disposal of nuclear waste; promotes scientific research and the exchange of data; and holds all territorial claims in abeyance. The pact applies to the area south of 60° south latitude, including all ice shelves and islands.
  • Several related conventions such as the Conservation of Antarctic Seals (1972), and Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (1980) are appended to this treaty for protection. However these laws also mean that conventional concepts such as territories and jurisdictions do not hold good here. India is expanding its infrastructure development in Antarctica.
  • The government is rebuilding its station, Maitri, to make it bigger and last for at least 30 years.
  • Dakshin Gangotri, the first Indian base established in 1984, has weakened and become just a supply base. 

Source: The Hindu

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