Indian Antarctic Bill, 2022     

Published On: 4th May, 2024

Authored By: Shri Ganarchit. B
ICFAI Hyderabad

Indian Antarctic Bill, 2022                                       

Quote:- “ The Antarctic region is significant not only to India but to the world as a whole ”           


It began during the Lok Sabha when it cleared the Antarctica bill under the Ministry of Earth Sciences under the minister Jitender Singh tabled the bill which is set to become the first domestic legislation about Antarctica bill in India. There was a scenario of colonial era geopolitics begin which is claimed by nations such as British in 1833, France in 1924, Post World War in 1946 during the military expedition “ Operation HIGH JUMP” under admiral Richard E . Bard     U.S claims Antarctic, To prevent military conflict the nations such as UK, Soviet Union and other countries negotiated and signed the Antarctica treaty on 1959 and also during Ms.Indira Gandhi India invaded Antarctica in 1980 s silently arranged a project called “ Operation Gangotri ” which aims to establish a foothold in the icy continent. Later, In 1983 – India finally joined the Antarctic Treaty also India had sent expeditions to Antarctica for the past 40 years.                                                         

PROVISIONS OF THE BILL: –                                  

1) The Bill introduces an elaborative permit system for any expedition or individual who wishes to visit the continent.                     

2) These permits will be issued by a committee that will be set up by the government.

3) 10 member consist of Secretary, Earth science ministry (chairperson), Officials from defense , Ministry of External Affairs , Finance, Fisheries , Legal Affairs , Science &Technology , Shipping , Tourism , Environment, Communication and Space Ministries , A Member from the National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research and National Security Council Secretariat and Experts on Antarctica. (The permits can be canceled by the committee if any deficiencies are found or activities in contravention of the law are detected.)           

ROLE OF INDIA: –                         

1) India does not carry out any commercial fishing in the Antarctica region.

2) But since every country has an allotted quota, The Bill now provides for this activity and also strict guidelines are in place in accordance with international law. 

3) India does not carry out any tourism activity within the region and surroundings, Few Indian tourists visit Antarctica through foreign tour operators and also it receives a number of tourists from all over the world and nations as per the bill now it enables Indian tour operators to operate in Antarctica, although, like for commercial fishing, this is restricted by the strict regulations imposed by the Antarctic Bill 2022.                                                    

4) The Bill further mentions elaborate standards for environmental protection and waste management.                                     


  • Drilling
  • Dredging       
  • Excavation or collection of mineral resources.
  • Even doing anything to identify where such mineral deposits.                                                                                      (The only exception is for scientific research with a granted permit without anybody else’s permission which clearly stated in Article II of Antarctic Treaty )                                                                 

STRICTLY PROHIBITED ON ICY CONTINENT :                                                                    

  • Damaging of native plants.
  • Flying (or) landing helicopters (or) operating vessels that could disturb the ecology of birds and animals like Polar Bear, Seals etc.
  • They should not conduct any atomic tests near the polar regions and its surroundings which leads to melting down of glaciers and increase in level of water in water bodies Eg: – Alaska atomic tests – Movement called Greenpeace try to discourage such practices near glaciers to save environment.
  • The central government can also appoint an officer to carry out inspections.                                     


Here the draft purposed the setting up of a separate designated courts to look into the crimes or offences committed on Antarctica. Even the bill further sets high penal provisions :-           

The lowest penalty = an imprisonment between 1- 2 years and a penalty of rupees 10 – 50 lakh. 

Extraction of any species native to Antarctica or introduction of exotic species to the native continent or land can draw an imprisonment of 7 yrs. and a fine of rupees 50 lakhs .                                                                                                                                             

For dumping of nuclear waste or nuclear explosion , the imprisonment can range between 20 years to Life imprisonment with a fine of rupees 50 crores,

Need for permit:                                                           

A permit by the Committee or written authorization from another party to the Protocol (other than India) will be required for various activities such as: (i) an Indian expedition to enter or remain in Antarctica, (ii) a person to enter or remain in an Indian station in Antarctica, (iii) a vessel or aircraft registered in India to enter or remain in Antarctica, (iv) a person or vessel to drill, dredge or excavate for mineral resources, or collect samples of mineral resources, (v) activities which may harm native species, and (vi) waste disposal by a person, vessel or aircraft in Antarctica.

The applicant must conduct an environmental impact assessment of the planned operations prior to the Committee granting a permit.

Moreover, a permit must not be granted unless a waste management plan has been prepared for the expedition by the Committee.”.          According to PIB that is (Press Information Bureau) :-       The India Antarctic Bill 2022 also aims at ensuring the de-militarization of the region along with getting it rid of mining or illegal activities on the icy continent as well as , The Bill proposes to set-up Indian Antarctic Authority (IAA) under the Ministry of Earth Sciences as the apex decision making authority: Dr Jitendra Singh said in Lok Sabha that is refered as “House of People ” . Speaking about the Bill, Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Science & Technology; Minister of State (Independent Charge) Earth Sciences; MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh said, the bill is in pursuant to India’s accession to Antarctic Treaty, the Protocol on Environment Protection (Madrid Protocol) to the Antarctic Treaty and to the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources.    It is clearly pointed out that the Bill provides a harmonious policy and regulatory framework for India’s Antarctic activities through well-established legal mechanisms and will help in efficient and elective operations of Indian Antarctic Programme. Additionally, it will support India’s initiative and interest in managing the increasing number of visitors to Antarctica as well as the sustainable development of fishery resources in Antarctic waters. Additionally, it would support India’s growing worldwide recognition and credibility in polar governance, which will foster global cooperation in the domains of science and logistics.


The India Antarctica Bill 2022 clearly aims to avoid illegal activities such as mining , exploitation of native resources and its ecology also elaborated that the continuing and growing presence of Indian scientists in Antarctica in the research stations with concurrent commitment to Antarctic studies and protection of fragile Antarctic ecosystem warrants adoption of domestic legislation on Antarctica consistent with its obligations as a member of Antarctic Treaty System. When these rules are enforced, Indian courts would have the authority to hear cases involving disputes or crimes committed in Antarctica. Such legislation will obligate the populace to abide by the Antarctic Treaty System’s rules.

This will also be useful in building credibility and enhancing the status of the Country globally and also to set-up the Indian Antarctic Authority (IAA) under the Ministry of Earth Sciences, which shall be the apex decision making authority and shall facilitate programs and activities permitted under the Bill. It will ensure the protection and preservation of the Antarctic environment, offer a stable, transparent, and accountable process for funding and supervising research and expeditions there, and guarantee that Indian citizens participating in Antarctic programs and activities follow all applicable laws and internationally recognized standards.

The IAA will be chaired by the Secretary of the Ministry of Earth Sciences. Official members of the relevant Indian Ministries will also be in attendance, and decisions will be made by consensus. India currently maintains two active research stations in Antarctica: Bharati (established in 2012) and Maitri (established in 1989). To date, India has conducted 40 successful yearly research excursions to Antarctica. India now joins the select group of countries that have several research stations located in the Polar Regions thanks to the establishment of the Himadri station in Ny-Alesund, Svalbard, Arctic.

On May 20, 1980, in Canberra, the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources was signed, among other things, to safeguard and conserve the Antarctic environment and, more specifically, to protect and conserve marine living resources in Antarctica. On June 17, 1985, India ratified the Convention, making it a member of the Commission for Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources.

 On October 4, 1991, in Madrid, the Antarctic Treaty Protocol on Environmental Protection was signed with the goals of fortifying the Antarctic Treaty system and creating a comprehensive framework for the preservation of the Antarctic environment and its related ecosystems. On January 14, 1998, India became a signatory to the Antarctic Treaty Protocol on Environmental Protection. South of 60 o South Latitude is Antarctica, a natural reserve dedicated to peace and science that shouldn’t be the center of international conflict.


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