Indian Antarctic Act, 2022

   

On 8-8-2022 the Ministry of Law and Justice notified Indian Antarctic Act, 2022 to define Antarctic environment, Indian expedition etc. The Act give effect to the Antarctic Treaty, Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, and the protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty. It shall come into force on such date as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, appoint.

Applicability: –

The Legislation is applicable to

  1. a citizen of India;

  2. a citizen of any other country;

  3. a company, joint venture , corporation registered in India and;

  4. any vessel or aircraft registered in India or outside India, which is a part of an Indian expedition to Antarctica under a permit issued under the Act.

Antarctica, comprising of all islands, sea and air space south of 60°S latitude, including their ice-selves and the area specified in Article I of the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources.

Key Points:

Constitution of Committee:

Committee on Antarctic Governance and Environmental Protection consist of following that are:

  1. Secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences, Chairperson, ex officio;

  2. Ten members not below the rank of Joint Secretary, nominated by Central Government, from any of the Ministries or Department dealing with, Defence, External Affairs, Finance , Environment etc.

  3. Two members from the fields of Antarctic Environment and Geo-political.

  4. An officer, not below the rank of Join Secretary in the Ministry of Earth, Sciences.

Functions of Committee:

Some of the functions are-

  1. maintain records to the programmes conducted by Parties in Antarctica;

  2. granting permits for various activities;

  3. monitor and ensure compliance of the relevant international laws for the protection of Antarctic environment and;

  4. reviewing relevant information provided by parties to the Convention, Treaty and Protocol.

Prohibition:

Act prohibits certain activities in Antarctica like-

  1. Prohibition of nuclear explosion or disposal of waste in Antarctica.

  2. Prohibition of introducing non-sterile soil in Antarctica

  3. Prohibition of discharge of garbage, plastic or other harmful substance to the marine environment.

Requirement of permit:

A permit by the Committee or written authorisation from another party to the Protocol (other than India) will be required for various activities like-

  1. waste disposal by a person, aircraft or vessel in Antarctica;

  2. discharge into sea any oily mixture, bilge water or food;

  3. an Indian expedition to enter or remain in Antarctica;

  4. a vessel or aircraft registered in India to enter or remain in Antarctica and;

  5. a person to enter or remain in an Indian station in Antarctica.

Offences and Penalties :

The Act specifies penalties for contravention of provisions. For example, conducting a nuclear explosion or dispose of any radioactive waste material in Antarctica which specifies in Section 17 of Indian Antarctic Act, 2022 will be punishable with an imprisonment of 20 years which may extend to life imprisonment and a fine of at least Rs 50 crore. Section 32 which specifies no person shall obstruct an Inspector or inspection team in performing their functions in India or in Antarctica will be punishable with an imprisonment of one year or with fine which shall not be less than five lakh rupees but extend to twenty lakh rupees, or with both.

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