Indian Antarctic Bill 2022


Recently, Lok Sabha passed the Indian Antarctic Bill, 2022 amid clamour from the Opposition to have more discussion.


GS II- Government policies and Interventions

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is the Antarctica Bill?
  2. What is the Antarctica Treaty?
  3. What are the main provisions of the Bill?
  4. What are the prohibitions?
  5. What is the penalty system that has been introduced?

What is the Antarctica Bill?

  • The draft bill is the first domestic legislation with regard to Antarctica in India.
  • Twenty-seven countries including Argentina, Australia, Belarus, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Columbia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Russian Federation, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States of America, Uruguay and Venezuela already have domestic legislations on Antarctica. Many others, such as India, are now following suit.
  • While India has been sending expeditions to Antarctica for the past 40 years, these expeditions have been circumscribed by international law.
  • The Bill now puts into place a comprehensive list of regulations related to Antarctica, for such scientific expeditions, as well as for individuals, companies and tourists.
  • The Ministry has explained that it expects activity in Antarctica to increase in the coming years, making the enforcement of a domestic set of protocols essential.
  • A domestic legislation will further provide more validity to the Antarctic Treaty, and subsequent protocols, of which India is a signatory.
  • The most significant part of the Bill is extending the jurisdiction of Indian courts to Antarctica, for crimes on the continent by Indian citizens, or foreign citizens who are a part of Indian expeditions.
  • So far there was no recourse for crimes committed during an expedition, including crimes against the environment.

What is the Antarctica Treaty?

  • The Antarctic Treaty was signed in 1959 by 12 countries — Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Chile, French Republic, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Union of South Africa, USSR, the UK of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the US of America, and came into force in 1961.
  • The Treaty covers the area south of 60°S latitude.
  • Currently, 54 nations are signatories to the Antarctic Treaty, but only 29 nations have a right to vote at the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meetings – this includes India.
  • India signed the Antarctic Treaty in 1983 and received consultative status the same year.
  • The Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) was set up in 1980 for the protection and preservation of the Antarctic environment and, in particular, for the preservation and conservation of marine living resources in Antarctica.
  • The Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty was signed in 1991 and came into force in 1998.
    •  It designates Antarctica as a “natural reserve, devoted to peace and science”.

Objectives of the treaty:

To demilitarize Antarctica and establish it as a zone used for peaceful research activities and to set aside any disputes regarding territorial sovereignty, thereby ensuring international cooperation.

What are the main provisions of the Bill?

Extending of jurisdiction of Indian courts:

  • While the most significant provision of the Bill remains the extending of jurisdiction of Indian courts to Antarctica, and the investigation and trial for crimes committed on the Arctic continent, the Bill is a comprehensive document of regulations, particularly keeping in mind environmental protection and the fragile nature of the region.

Permit system:

  • The Bill introduces an elaborate permit system for any expedition or individual who wishes to visit the continent.
  • These permits will be issued by a Committee that will be set up by the government.
  • The Committee will comprise of the Secretary Earth Sciences ministry and will also have officials from Defence, Ministry of External Affairs, Finance, Fisheries, Legal Affairs, Science and Technology, Shipping, Tourism, Environment, Communication and Space ministries along with a member from the National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research and National Security Council Secretariat and experts on Antarctica.
  • The permits can be cancelled by the Committee if deficiencies are found or activities in contravention of the law are detected.

Commercial fishing

  • While India does not carry out commercial fishing in the area, since every country has an allotted quota, the Bill now provides for this activity.
  • However, strict guidelines are in place in accordance with international law.

Tourism activity

  • Like fishing, while India does not carry out any tourism activity in the region, and very few Indian tourists visit Antarctica, when they do, they do so through foreign tour operators.
  • Antarctica receives a number of tourists from foreign countries.
  • The Bill now enables Indian tour operators to operate in Antarctica, although, like for commercial fishing, this is circumscribed by strict regulations.
  • The Bill further enlists elaborate standards for environmental protection as well as waste management.

What are the prohibitions?

  • The Bill prohibits drilling, dredging, excavation or collection of mineral resources or even doing anything to identify where such mineral deposits occur — the only exception is for scientific research with a granted permit.
  • Damaging of native plants, flying or landing helicopters or operating vessels that could disturb birds and seals, using firearms that could disturb the birds and animals, remove soil or any biological material native to Antarctica, engage in any activity that could adversely change the habitat of birds and animals, kill, injure or capture any bird or animal have been strictly prohibited.
  • The introduction of animals, birds, plants or microscopic organisms that are not native to Antarctica are also prohibited. Extraction of species for scientific research needs to be done through a permit. The central government can also appoint an officer to carry out inspections.

What is the penalty system that has been introduced?

  • The draft Bill proposes the setting up of a separate designated court to try crimes committed in Antarctica.
  • The Bill further sets high penal provisions — the lowest penalty comprising an imprisonment between one-two years and a penalty of Rs 10-50 lakh.
  • Extraction of any species native to Antarctica, or introduction of an exotic species to the continent can draw imprisonment of seven years and a fine of Rs 50 lakh.
  • For dumping of nuclear waste or a nuclear explosion, the imprisonment can range between 20 years to life imprisonment with a fine of Rs 50 crore.

Direct Seeding of Rice


Punjab is not only a long way away from its target of Direct Seeding of Rice (DSR) for this year (as it could only achieve 6.7% of the total target) but also the state has seen 85.7% decline in DSR area from the last season.


GS III- Agriculture

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is DSR?
  2. How much water can DSR help save?
  3. Advantages of DSR tech
  4. Disadvantages of DSR tech

What is DSR?

Direct Seeding of Rice (DRS):

  • In DSR, a tractor-powered machine drills the pre-germinated seeds straight into the field.
  • This procedure does not require nursery preparation or transplantation.
  • Farmers only need to level their soil and apply pre-sowing irrigation once.

Normal Paddy Transplanting:

  • Farmers create nurseries where paddy seeds are first sowed and nurtured into young plants before transplanting paddy.
  • The nursery seed bed takes up 5-10% of the transplanted area.
  • These seedlings are then pulled and transplanted on the puddled land 25-35 days later.

How much water can DSR help save?

  • According to an analysis by the Punjab Agriculture University, DSR technique can help save 15% to 20% water. In some cases, water saving can reach 22% to 23%.
  • With DSR,15-18 irrigation rounds are required against 25 to 27 irrigation rounds in traditional method.
  • Since area under rice in Punjab is almost stagnant around 3 million hectares for the last three to four years, DSR can save 810 to 1,080 billion litres water every year if entire rice crop is brought under the technique.

Advantages of DSR tech:

  • Solve labour shortage problem: Like the traditional method it does not require a paddy nursery and transplantion of 30 days old paddy nursery into the main puddled field. With DSR, paddy seeds are sown directly with machine.
  • Offers avenues for ground water recharge: It prevent the development of hard crust just beneath the plough layer due to puddled transplanting and it matures 7-10 days earlier than puddle transplanted crop, therefore giving more time for management of paddy straw.
  • Higher yield: A PAU study said that results from research trials and farmers’ field survey have also indicated that yield, after DSR, are one to two quintals per acre higher than puddled transplanted rice.

Disadvantages of DSR tech;

  • Suitability: This is the most significant element since farmers must not seed it in light textured soils because this approach is only suitable for medium to heavy textured soils such as sandy loam, loam, clay loam, and silt loam, which make up around 80% of the state’s land.
    • Avoid using this approach in fields that were previously planted with crops other than rice (such as cotton, maize, or sugarcane), as DSR on these soils is more likely to suffer from iron deficiency and weed problems.
  • Compulsory Laser and Leveling: The field should be levelled with a laser.
  • Herbicide Spraying: Herbicide spraying must be done at the same time as sowing and the initial irrigation.

Environmental Impact Assessment


The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has notified amendments to the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Rules, making several exemptions to gaining environmental clearance.

  • In order to analyse (and subsequently mitigate) a project or activity’s possible negative consequences on the ecology of a region, the MoEFCC promulgated a new EIA Notification in 2006. This notification requires review of all pertinent facts concerning a project or activity. The years 2016, 2020, and 2021 saw amendments.


GS III- Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  • What are the Exemptions?
  • What is Environment Impact Assessment?
  • Importance of Environment Impact Assessment:
  • Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC)

What are the Exemptions?

Strategic and Defence Projects:

  • Exempts strategic and defense-related highway projects, including those located 100 km from the Line of Control, from the need for an environmental review before construction.
  • The exemption to be granted to highways of strategic importance does away with the requirement for green clearance for construction of the contentious Char Dham project, which includes widening of 899 km roads in ecologically sensitive areas of Uttarakhand to I
  • The case is presently being heard in Supreme Court, which has set up a high-powered committee to look into the matter.

Biomass Based Power Plants:

  • Thermal power plants up to 15 MW based on biomass or non-hazardous municipal solid waste using auxiliary fuel such as coal, lignite or petroleum products up to 15% have also been exempted — as long as the fuel mix is eco-friendly.

Ports and Harbour dealing in Fish:

  • Fish handling ports and harbours with less pollution potential compared to others, and caters to small fishermen, are exempted from environmental clearance.

Two other projects are exempted:

  • Toll plazas that require additional width for the installation of toll collection booths to accommodate a large number of vehicles,
  • Expansion activities at existing airports related to the expansion of terminal buildings without increasing the airport’s current area rather than the expansion of runways, etc.

What is Environment Impact Assessment?

  • Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a process of evaluating the likely environmental impacts of a proposed project or development, taking into account inter-related socio-economic, cultural and human-health impacts, both beneficial and adverse.
  • UNEP defines Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) as a tool used to identify the environmental, social and economic impacts of a project prior to decision-making.
  • It aims to predict environmental impacts at an early stage in project planning and design, find ways and means to reduce adverse impacts, shape projects to suit the local environment and present the predictions and options to decision-makers.
  • Environment Impact Assessment in India is statutorily backed by the Environment Protection Act, 1986 which contains various provisions on EIA methodology and process.

Stages of Environment Impact Assessment:

  • Project screening: This entails the application of EIA to those projects that may have significant environmental impacts.
  • Scoping: This step seeks to identify, at an early stage, the key, significant environmental issues from among a host of possible impacts of a project and all the available alternatives.
  • Consideration of alternatives
  • Description of the project/development action: This step seeks to clarify the purpose and rationale of the project and understand its various characteristics, including the stages of development, location and processes.
  • Description of the environmental baseline: This includes the establishment of both the present and future state of the environment, in the absence of the project, taking into account the changes resulting from natural events and from other human activities.
  • The prediction of impacts: This step aims to identify the likely magnitude of the change (i.e., impact) in the environment when the project is implemented in comparison with the situation when the project is not carried out.
  • Evaluation and assessment of significance: This seeks to assess the relative significance of the predicted impacts to allow a focus on key adverse impacts.
  • Mitigation: This involves the introduction of measures to avoid, reduce, remedy or compensate for any significant adverse impacts.
  • Public consultation and participation: This aims to assure the quality, comprehensiveness and effectiveness of the EIA, as well as to ensure that the public’s views are adequately taken into consideration in the decision-making process.
  • EIS presentation: This is a vital step in the process. If done badly, much good work in the EIA may be negated.
  • Review: This involves a systematic appraisal of the quality of the EIS, as a contribution to the decision-making process.
  • Decision-making:
  • Post-decision monitoring: This involves the recording of outcomes associated with development impacts, after the decision to proceed with the project.
Importance of Environment Impact Assessment:
  • Reduced cost and time of project implementation and design,
  • Avoided treatment/clean-up costs and impacts of laws and regulations.
  • Lays base for environmentally sound projects;
  • Greater awareness of environmental legislation;
  • Protection of Environment
  • Optimum utilization of resources (balance between development and Environmental protection)

Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC)

  • The EAC is a multidisciplinary sectoral appraisal committee comprising of various subject matter experts for appraisal of sector-specific projects. The EAC is the recommendatory body. Based on the recommendations of the Expert Appraisal Committee, environmental clearance is accorded or rejected to the project by MoEF&CC.
  • After 2006 Amendment the EIA cycle comprises of four stages:
    1. Screening
    2. Scoping
    3. Public hearing
    4. Appraisal
  1. Category A projects require mandatory environmental clearance and thus they do not undergo the screening process.
  2. Category B projects undergoes screening process and they are classified into two types.
  3. Category B1 projects (Mandatorily requires EIA).
  4. Category B2 projects (Do not require EIA).

Thus, Category A projects and Category B, projects undergo the complete EIA process whereas Category B2 projects are excluded from complete EIA process.

Private Member’s Bill


Opposition members protested against the introduction of a private member’s Bill on the repeal of The Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991, in the Rajya Sabha.


GS II- Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Private Member’s Bill
  2. Difference between private and government Bills
  3. What is the Places of Worship Act?

Private Member’s Bill

  • A private member’s Bill is different from a government Bill and is piloted by an MP who is not a minister. An MP who is not a minister is a private member.
  • Individual MPs may introduce private member’s Bill to draw the government’s attention to what they might see as issues requiring legislative intervention.

Difference between private and government Bills

  • While a government Bill can be introduced and discussed on any day, a private member’s bill can only be introduced and discussed on Fridays.
  • A private member’s Bill is different from a government Bill and is piloted by an MP who is not a minister
  • Individual MPs may introduce private member’s Bill to draw the government’s attention to what they might see as issues requiring legislative intervention.
  • he admissibility of a private Bill is decided by the Chairman in the case of the Rajya Sabha and the Speaker in the case of the Lok Sabha
  • Before the Bill can be listed for introduction, the Member must give at least a month’s notice, for the House Secretariat to examine it for compliance with constitutional provisions and rules on legislation
  • As per PRS Legislative, no private member’s Bill has been passed by Parliament since 1970. To date, Parliament has passed 14 such Bills, six of them in 1956.

What is the Places of Worship Act?

The long title describes it as “An Act to prohibit conversion of any place of worship and to provide for the maintenance of the religious character of any place of worship as it existed on the 15th day of August, 1947, and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.”

What are its provisions?

  • Section 3 of the Act bars the conversion, in full or part, of a place of worship of any religious denomination into a place of worship of a different religious denomination — or even a different segment of the same religious denomination.
  • Section 4(1) declares that the religious character of a place of worship “shall continue to be the same as it existed” on August 15, 1947.
  • Section 4(2) says any suit or legal proceeding with respect to the conversion of the religious character of any place of worship existing on August 15, 1947, pending before any court, shall abate — and no fresh suit or legal proceedings shall be instituted.
    • The proviso to this subsection saves suits, appeals and legal proceedings that are pending on the date of commencement of the Act, if they pertain to the conversion of the religious character of a place of worship after the cut-off date.
  • Section 5 stipulates that the Act shall not apply to the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case, and to any suit, appeal or proceeding relating to it.

When was this law passed?

  • The Act was brought by the Congress government of Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao at a time when the Ram temple movement was at its peak.
  • The Babri Masjid was still standing, but L K Advani’s rath yatra, his arrest in Bihar, and the firing on kar sevaks in Uttar Pradesh had raised communal tensions.

Issues with the law

  • The law has been challenged on the ground that it bars judicial review, which is a basic feature of the Constitution.
  • It imposes an “arbitrary irrational retrospective cutoff date”, and abridges the right to religion of Hindus, Jains, Buddhists and Sikhs.


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