(Environment & Ecology)General Studies Paper 1General Studies Paper 2General Studies Paper 3 (Geography of India & World) (International Relations)
Question:- 33. Why is Antarctica significant for mankind? Briefly discuss the provisions of the Indian Antarctic Bill. Answer in 250 words.
Aug 06, 2022


Antarctica is the world’s highest, driest, windiest and the coldest continent. The huge frozen landmass of Antarctica is vital for our survival. The Antarctic ice deflects some of the sun’s rays away from the Earth, keeping temperatures live-able. The ocean surrounding the continent also supports masses of the world’s sea life – including 15 species of whale and dolphin, and five species of penguin. The nutrient-rich waters encourage blooms of tiny plankton, the basis of the ocean food chain. Antarctica is one of the world’s most important ‘natural laboratories’ as it helps us understand global climate change and the  unique archive locked in Antarctica’s thick ice sheet tells us what our planet’s climate has been like over almost a million years. Also, Antarctica is believed to hold rich deposits of oil and vital minerals.

The Antarctic is one of the world’s least disturbed places, but it’s increasingly vulnerable, especially to global warming and climate change. Even small-scale melting of Antarctic ice would raise global sea levels, and cause flooding around the world.



Almost 40 years ago, India signed the Antarctic Treaty which aimed at preserving the fragile Antarctic ecosystem. The Antarctic Bill is India’s first domestic law pertaining to Antarctica in India. In twenty-seven other countries, local laws already apply to Antarctica. The Indian Antarctic Bill has been brought to give effect to the Antarctic Treaty, the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resource” and related protocols that India has signed as part of the larger framework of the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS).




The main provisions of the Bill are as follows:

  1. 1.It aims to control activities in Antarctica that accelerate climate change and endanger the continent’s delicate ecosystem.
  2. 2.A central committee overseen by the Secretary of the Ministry of Earth Sciences will implement and ensure adherence to relevant international regulations for the preservation of the Antarctic ecosystem, grant permits for various activities there, collect and analyse relevant data provided by parties to the Treaty, Convention, and Protocol, and negotiate fees or charges with third parties for such activities.
  3. 3.There would be permits provided for Indian expeditions in Antarctica, for people to stay at Indian stations in Antarctica, for aircraft or vehicles to enter or stay in Antarctica, for waste disposal, for drilling for resources there, and for activities that would endanger the local wildlife.
  4. 4.The measure also forbids the detonation of nuclear weapons or the release of radioactive waste into Antarctica, the introduction of non-sterile soil, and the dumping of trash, plastic, or other potentially harmful items into the ocean.
  5. 5.The bill also suggests creating the Indian Antarctic Authority (IAA), an apex decision-making body that will facilitate the programmes and activities allowed by the bill and offer a reliable, transparent, and accountable process for the sponsorship and oversight of Antarctic research and expeditions. The IAA would be housed under the Ministry of Earth Sciences.
  6. 6.The initiative shall ensure compliance by Indian people engaging in the Antarctic programmes and activities with relevant norms and internationally acknowledged standards.
  7. 7.It will facilitate India’s interest and proactive involvement in the management of growing Antarctic tourism and sustainable development of fisheries resources in Antarctic waters. It will also help in the efficient and effective operations of the Indian Antarctic Program.



The Bill is one of the many moves toward attaining its climate goals as India pledged to achieve net zero emissions by 2070 at CoP26.It will play a big role in increasing the international visibility, and credibility of India in Polar governance leading to international collaboration and cooperation in scientific and logistics fields.