The Indian Parliament passed the Indian Antarctic Bill, 2022, which aims at having India's own national measures for protecting the Antarctic environment as also the dependent and associated ecosystem. On July 2022, the Lok Sabha passed the Indian Antarctic Bill,2022. The Earth Sciences Minister, Mr. Jitendra Singh emphasized the necessity for India as an obligation to pass the law as a signatory to the Antarctic Treaty of 1963.
The key objective of the treaty is to demilitarize Antarctica to establish as a zone free continent against nuclear test and against disposal of radio-active waste and make it as a peaceful region pristine.
The provisions of the Bill, asserts that private tours or expeditions to Antarctic would be prohibited without a permit on a written authorisation by a member country of 54 countries member to the treaty.
Indian laws will be applicable in the area occupied by the Indian institutions and personnel living in that continent. The main aim of the newly – passed bill is to extend the domestic laws to research stations set-up by India in the Antarctic region of the two active research stations – Maitri and Bharti where Indian research scientists are involved in research.
It is the first domestic legislation with regard to Antarctica since 41 years. India began Antarctica expeditions in 1981. It is applicable to Indian Citizens as well as foreign Indian citizens. It seeks to give effect to the Antarctica treaty , The Convention on the Conservation of Antarctica Marine living resources and the Protocol in Environmental protection to the Antarctic treaty. The Bill, establishes a ‘ Committee on Antarctic Governance and Environmental Protection’. It prohibits mining, dredging and activities that threatens the pristine life of the continent.
The Bill specifies penalties that be imposed for the violation of its provisions. A nuclear explosion in Antarctica punishable by 20 years imprisonment or even life time imprisonment with a fine of 50 crore.
Drilling for mineral resources or introducing any non- native animals or plants in Antarctica without permission is punishable by 7 years and fine of 10 lakhs to 50 lakhs.