Bill for domestic-laws rollout in Antarctic research centres introducedtext_fields
New Delhi: The Union government put forward a bill in the Lok Sabha on Friday, which sought to apply Indian laws to the country's research centre in Antarctica. The Bill, titled Indian Antarctic Bill, was introduced by Earth Sciences Minister Jitendra Singh, but the Opposition raised objections saying that the region is 'no man's land', PTI reported.
Trinamool Congress MP Saugata Roy criticized that now the Modi government wants to take the bureaucracy to Antarctica as well. Congress Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said that when India does not have its own polar research vessel and needs to hire one for expeditions, such a law was unnecessary. He wondered how the law could be imposed on foreign citizens and urged to refer the Bill to a Select Committee.
However, BJP member Nishikant Dubey asked the presiding officer to overrule the two Opposition member's objections. He said that Parliament has powers to make laws to implement international treaties.
Meanwhile, against the objections, minister Jitendra Singh said, "If any unlawful activity happens in the territory occupied by Indian research stations, then how to check it. In the Antarctic Treaty, it was made mandatory for all 54 countries (signatories) that whichever area is occupied by your set up, you enforce your country's law and in order to honour that this Bill has been brought," the minister said. He said that only one law officer would be appointed to ensure zero unlawful activities are going on in the region inside Indian research stations- Maitri and Bharti.
The minister said that India organizes regular expeditions to the region, and this will increase in the future after private players enter with shipping and aviation. Therefore, tourism, fishing etc., in the region must be regulated.
The Bill proposes a prohibition on expeditions to Antarctica without a permit. It also demands a fund for the welfare of Antarctic research work and the protection of the environment there.