8.2 Antarctic Treaty System

India is a member of the Antarctic Treaty System. India acceded to the Antarctic Treaty in 1983 and was granted Consultative Status in the same year. As a Consultative Party to the Antarctic Treaty, India is obliged to attend the Antarctic Treaty Consultative meetings held once every year. Decisions relating to Antarctica are taken with the consent of all the Consultative Parties.

India is also a member of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research, meetings of which are held once every two years. SCAR as it is generally known, is the highest body dealing with Antarctic science and reports to the International Council of the Scientific Unions. SCAR, has an observer status and is a special invitee in every Antarctic Treaty Consultative meeting.

As regards logistic matters relating to Antarctica, including protection of the environment and waste disposal mechanisms, the Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programmes and the Standing Committee on Antarctic Logistics & Operations are the bodies directly concerned. These bodies are federated to SCAR, but also enjoy observer and special invitee status in Antarctic Treaty meetings. Recommendations of COMNAP and SCALOP are strictly adhered to. COMNAP and SCALOP also offer an excellent forum where direct interaction with the counterparts of the Antarctic Managers of other countries is possible, especially in case of emergency. COMNAP and SCALOP meet once every year. India regularly participates in these meetings.

The Convention on Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources governs the marine living resources in the Antarctic area, especially the krill. India is a party to the Convention and is also a member of the Commission for conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources. The Convention maintains close links with the Antarctic Treaty and reports are submitted every year to the Antarctic Treaty Consultative meetings.

India has ratified the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty and obligations arise for maintaining the Antarctic environment in accordance with international standards.

XXth Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting

The XXth Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting was held at Utrecht, Neitherlands from 29th April to 10th May 1996. Dr. A. E. Muthunayagam, Secretary, Ocean Development, attended the meeting from 6th to 10th May 1996. ATCM meetings are held annually and is the most important meeting under the Antarctic Treaty System where all decisions and policies, relating to environment and legal aspects are taken. The recommendations of the ATCM are adopted by consensus and they come into force after all the Consultative Parties ratify or accept the same in accordance with their own constitutional process. India became a Consultative Party to the Antarctic Treaty in the year 1983 and has been attending these meetings regularly. During the XXth ATCM issues relating to the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty and the Draft Liability Regime to be adopted as an Annex to the Protocol were discussed. India has already ratified the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty. Of the 26 Consultative Parties to the Antarctic Treaty, 22 States have already ratified the same and it is expected that the Protocol would come into force soon. The ATCM urged for early coming into force of the Protocol.

In addition to the representatives of the Contracting parties to the Antarctic Treaty, the meeting was attended by the Chairman of the Commission on Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, the Chairman of the Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programmes and experts from other organisations, such as IUCN, IOC, etc.

Liability Annex To The Protocol On The Environmental Protection To The Antarctic Treaty.

Article 16 of the Protocol on the Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty provides that detailed rules and procedures relating to liability for damage arising from activities taking place in the Antarctic Treaty area would be elaborated by the Parties and included as one or more annex(es) to the Protocol. In 1992 an Expert Group was constituted under the chairmanship of Prof.R.Wolfrum of Germany to prepare the draft of the Liability Regime for submission to the Antarctic Treaty Consultative meeting and thereafter its adoption as annex to the Protocol. The Expert Group has held a number of meetings and has progressively developed the draft liability regime.

During the current year the Group of Legal Experts met in Cambridge, U.K., from 7 - 11 October,96 and considered the sixth draft on the Liability Annex prepared by the Chairman. Shri H.P.Rajan, Adviser, DOD, attended the meeting. On the basis of the deliberations, the draft will be further revised and is likely to be placed before the next Antarctic Treaty Consultative meeting in May, 1997.

Council of Members of National Antarctic Programme:

The Eighth Annual Meeting of the Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programmes (COMNAP) together with its Standing Committee on Antarctic Logistics and Operations (SCALOP) was held at Cambridge, UK from 5-9 August, 1996. India was represented in this meeting by Dr. A Mitra, Principal Scientific Officer, DOD which was attended by 28 other Member nations. A meeting of the Air Operations Working Group was also held to discuss the possible airlinks that can be established to the various regions of Antarctica. A special meeting to discuss the formation of a network of National Programme Environment Officers was also held which endorsed the idea of setting up of this network in order to share information on envirronment related issues and methods of implementation. Discussions were held on Antarctic Managers Electronic Network which could be used for advanced exchange of Operational Information, including details of research stations through the use of Internet. During the deliberations on environmental topics it was felt that environment monitoring done by various national programmes should be standardised and coordinated in order to avoid unnecessary duplication. In addition, a trade exhibition on Antarctic Logistics and a technical symposium on Polar Operational aspects were also held.

Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research:

The Twenty-fourth Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) meeting was held in conjuction with the above COMNAP meeting from 4 to 16 August, 1996 at Cambridge, UK. The Indian delegation was led by Dr. A.E. Muthunayagam, Secretary, Department of Ocean Development with Dr. A. Mitra, Principal Scientific Officer, DOD, as Alternate Delegate. Contemporary scientific campaigns on global issues mounted by SCAR were discussed and possibilities of India's participation in these efforts were explored. India was also represented in the Working Group meetings of (i) Solar Terrestrial & Atmospheric Research by Dr. R.Sreedharan of PRL, (ii) Physics & Chemistry of Atmosphere by Dr. R.S.Arora of NPL, (iii) Human Biology & Medicine by Dr. U. Sachdeva of AIIMS. The long term scientific strategy to be adopted by India in Antarctica was well received by several countries who expressed their desire to collaborate with India in various domains of Polar Science. The SCAR meeting recommended international campaigns should be undertaken to encourage, develop and contribute to the global issues in the following specific areas: (i) Antarctic sea-ice processes, climate variability and eco- system interactions, (ii) High resolution paleo-environment and climatic studies from ice cores covering the last 200 years, (iii) Paleo-environment and climatic studies from sedimentological analysis covering the last 200,000 years, (iv) Ice sheet mass balance and sea level studies.

Commission for Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR)

The 15th meeting of CCAMLR was held at Hobart, in Australia during 21st Oct'96 to Ist Nov'96. Sh. V.Ravindranathan, Director, Sagar Sampada Cell, Kochi represented India in this meeting. The Commission was informed of the results of exclusive Indian Expedition to Antarctic waters for assessment of Krill and other living resources.

Cooperation in Polar Research

A visit to 4 Polar Labs namely, British Antarctic Survey and Scott Polar Research Institute, UK, Alfred Wegner Polar Research Institute, Germany and Institute of Glaciology, France was undertaken between 7-15 March, 1996 by an Indian delegation consisting of Dr. A. Mitra, PSO, DOD and Dr K.Gopalan of NGRI, Hyderabad in order to obtain detailed information on low temperature laboratory setup and the instrument facilities required in these labs. This input has been used in designing the Cold Temperature Ice Core Study Laboratory complex being setup at the Antarctic Study Centre, Goa.

A visit to Japan was undertaken by Dr. A. Mitra, PSO, DOD from 28th March to 19th April, 1996 under the Japanese Society for Promotion of Science (JSPS) Fellowship Programme to gain information on contemporary academic research and analytical facilities available in the leading labs of Japan in the fields of polar and low temperature science. The purpose of this visit was primarily to obtain a broad spectrum of knowledge in the area of polar research in order to conceptualise a frame work of research facilities which could be developed in the Antarctic Study Centre, Goa.

A visit was undertaken to France by Dr. A. Mitra, PSO, DOD from 4-8th November, 1996 on an invitation from the French Government to explore the areas of bilateral co-operation in the fields of polar science and logistics which can be undertaken jointly between India and France. Discussions with scientists from six different laboratories including the French Institute for Polar Research was held leading to identification of specific areas of collaboration which can be mounted in Antarctica as joint campaigns.