India will oppose all attempts by some countries to sponsor Antarctica as a tourism destination, declared Earth Sciences Minister Kapil Sibal here today.
Talking to newsmen on the eve of Earth Day, he said, India would like to oppose any kind of “exploitation” of the icy continent including tourism which is likely to contaminate Antarctica by human beings. Way back in 1959 it had been agreed that Antarctica would not be exploited but no one could imagine in those days that one day Antarctica would be exploited as a tourist destination ,he added.
Earth Day is celeberated each year on April 22, by more than 500 million people and governments in over 175 countries to promote environmental citizenship and awareness throughout the world.
Mr Sibal said that the forthcoming Thirtieth Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting being held for the first time here in India (April 30-May.11)will take up the environmental concerns raised regarding India’s proposed third research center at Larsemann Hills, Antarctica.
He said India has submitted the mandatory Comprehensive Environmental Evaluation to the ATCM which will be discussed in the Committee on Environmental Protection under the Environmental Protocol during the first week of meeting ,before it goes to ATCM for consideration.
He said the setting up the station at Larsemann Hills would give Indian scientists a chance to work in the region of Antarctica which is located opposite to the Indian sub continent.
He said that Ministry of Earth Sciences is planning to have the first Indian Ice Class Oceanographic Research cum Logistic Vessel in the Eleventh Plan. It is also planning to set up in collaboration with Department of Space a Satellite Earth Station at Maitri station in Antarctica to provide better communication and real time data transfer facility between Antarctic and mainland India.Once operational the earth station will also help researchers in enhancing capabilities of Indian polar orbiting satellites.
He said to mark the International Polar Year 2007-08 India will be sending Indian scientists to Arctic during summer this year in a joint effort with Norway.