India can now go ahead and set up its third station in Antarctica at Larsemann Hills. The proposal was cleared at the Thirtieth Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting on Friday after India’s clarifications and assurances on concerns raised by members.
In an interview to the Hindustan Times First Vice chairman of the Committee for Environmental Protection Dr Yves Frenot said that as per ATCM rules, every country which wished to set up a station has to submit a Comprehensive Environmental Evaluation report to the Committee.
India had submitted its report which came for final discussion on Friday and was cleared following certaom clarifications sought by members, he said.
"There were concerns raised about where the Indians would get their supply of fresh water for drinking,".
"The proposed Indian station has several pristine lakes with marine animals and algae around it but if you use these there is the risk of contamination," Dr Yves added
"India assured that it will use water from streams which are going out of the lake and undertake no direct activity in the water of the lakes," he said.
Some members also asked if India would look at other possibilities and India assured them that it would also look at the possibility of reverse osmosis to convert sea water to fresh water,he added.
One of the concerns members had, was how India would minimize the risk of introduction of alien species of plants or insects into Antarctica.
"Any seed or insect reaching Antarctica particularly from a temperate climate with clothing or equipment could get permanently established there and propagate in Antarctica because the climate is getting warmer there in the context of climate change,” he said.
India assured of adopting quarantine measures and proper cleaning of material and equipment to minimize risk of introducing new plant/insect species,he added.
He said that as several countries already have stations in the Larsemann Hills like China,Australia ,Romania and a draft management plan in which all these countries have decided to work together was also adopted during the Meeting.
There was some concern whether India would accept this management plan of which India would have to become a part once it sets up its station at Larsemann Hill, he said.
After discussions, India said that it would be happy to follow the work management plan which had been adopted . In the next two to three years once the Indian station and facilities come up any required changes in the mangement plan may be made,”he added.
Chairman of ATCM Dr U R Rao said, "It’s a success for India. The Larsemann Hill area fits with the eastern part of India which broke off from Antarctica during the Gondwanaland break up.”
He said India would be interested in many geological features of the area,besides monitoring ozone radiation,global temperature change.
India satisfied members concerns about pollution, disposal of waste, efficient energy use, type of construction, area utilization before its proposal was accepted,he added.