The Parliament on Monday passed a bill that seeks to extend the application of domestic laws to research stations set up by India in the Antarctic region.
The Indian Antarctic Bill, 2022, piloted in the Upper House by Earth Sciences Minister Jitendra Singh, was passed with a voice vote after a brief discussion amid a protest by the Opposition on various issues, including the arrest of Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut.
The House rejected several amendments moved by Opposition parties, including for sending the bill to a select committee of the Rajya Sabha for scrutiny of the proposed legislation. The Lok Sabha had given its approval to the bill on July 22. The Opposition had demanded division on sending the bill to the Select Committee.
Bhubaneswar Kalita, who was chairing the session, had called for the division. With several members protesting in the Well of the House, Kalita said the division cannot take place unless MPs are in their allotted seats, and he called it off. The Indian Antarctic Bill, 2022 seeks to extend the application of domestic laws to research stations set up by India in the Antarctic region.
India has two active research stations in the Antarctic -- Maitri and Bharti -- where scientists are involved in research. The bill proposes to prohibit Indian expedition to Antarctica without a permit or written authorization of another party to the Antarctic Treaty, provides for inspection by an officer appointed by the government, and for a penalty for contravention of certain provisions of the legislation.
It also seeks to constitute a fund for the welfare of Antarctic research work and the protection of the environment of the icy continent. The House was adjourned after the passage of the bill to meet Tuesday.