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India confident of extending exclusive economic zone

business Updated: Jun 11, 2011 23:30 IST
India UN Commission on Law of Seas

India on Saturday said it was confident that the UN will soon clear its claim to almost double the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) extending to the seas, which could give it access to larger mineral resources, oil and natural gas.

India last year submitted its claim to extend its coastal EEZ from 200 nautical miles to 350 to the UN Commission on Law of Seas (UNCLOS).

"We are among a few countries which have been able to give sedimentary and scientific evidence to lay claim over an extended continental shelf around it," minister of state for earth sciences Ashwani Kumar said.

The minister was taking part in an event at the National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCAOR) in Vasco-da-Gama.

"We presented our claim before a UN commission last year along with the scientific data collected over a decade and are confident that it will be approved soon," he added.

Under the provision of UNCLOS, a coastal country can seek an extension of the EEZ beyond the approved 200 nautical miles if it can demonstrate that the continental shelf of the country extends beyond that distance - up to a maximum of 350 nautical miles.

India produced data spanning over 6,000 pages which were collected over the period of almost a decade.

At the event, the minister, who is on a five-day tour of scientific institutions in Hyderabad, Bangalore and Goa, interacted with the scientists stationed at the Indian missions in the Antarctica through video-conferencing.

If ratified, the claim would help India in exploring the area and exploiting oil and natural gas and mineral resources in it.

According to the minister, this project was started in 1999 with a team of 60 scientists leading the survey and analysing the data.

However, this exercise could lead to overlapping of claims from neighbouring countries like Bangladesh and Myanmar, Kumar added.

"So far, three neighbouring countries Myanmar, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have also laid down their claims. The sub-commissions instituted by the UNCLOS look into the claims of each country and then issue its recommendations. No time limit can be prescribed as to when it would be settled finally but it would happen soon," Kumar said.

The claims of 14 countries have so far been settled by UNCLOS on their respective EEZs.