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
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
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
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.