PIB Analysis : 7th and 8th January

PIB Analysis for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. Antarctic Treaty and to the Protocol to the Antarctic Treaty on Environmental Protection.  Arctic Council
  2. North East Natural Gas Pipeline Grid
  3. Operation Sankalp
  4. Revised Mutual Legal Assistance Programme

1 . Antarctic Treaty

Context : Cabinet approves Memorandum of Understanding between India and Sweden on cooperation in Polar Science

About the News

  • India and Sweden are both signatories to the Antarctic Treaty and to the Protocol to the Antarctic Treaty on Environmental Protection.
  • Sweden as one of the eight “Arctic States” is one of the Member State in the Arctic Council whereas India has the Observer Status in the Arctic Council.
  • Sweden has a vigorous scientific program in the Polar Regions, both in Arctic and Antarctic. India likewise, has sustained scientific research programs in both the Polar Regions as well as in the oceanic realm.

About Antarctic Treaty

  • The primary purpose of the Antarctic Treaty is to ensure “in the interests of all mankind that Antarctica shall continue forever to be used exclusively for peaceful purposes and shall not become the scene or object of international discord”.
  • To this end it prohibits “any measures of a military nature” but does “not prevent the use of military personnel or equipment for scientific research or for any other peaceful purpose”.
  • The Treaty provides for “freedom of scientific investigation in Antarctica, promotes international cooperation in scientific investigation in Antarctica”, encourages “the establishment of cooperative working relations with those Specialized Agencies of the United Nations and other international organizations having a scientific or technical interest in Antarctica”, prohibits “any nuclear explosions in Antarctica and the disposal there of radioactive waste material” and provides for detailed exchanges of information.
  • To promote the objectives and ensure the observance of the provisions of the Antarctica Treaty”, Consultative Parties “have the right to designate observers to carry out any inspection of all areas of Antarctica, including all stations, installations and equipment, and all ships and aircraft at points of discharging or embarking cargoes or personnel in Antarctica.
  • The Treaty applies to the area south of 60° South Latitude, including all ice shelves, but nothing in the Treaty “shall prejudice or in any way affect the rights, or the exercise of the rights, of any State under international law with regard to the high seas within that area”. 
  • The original Signatories to the Treaty are the twelve countries that were active in Antarctica during the International Geophysical Year of 1957-58 and then accepted the invitation of the Government of the United States of America to participate in the diplomatic conference at which the Treaty was negotiated in Washington in 1959. These Parties have the right to participate in the meetings provided for in Article IX of the Treaty (Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meetings, ATCM).
  • Since 1959, 42 other countries have acceded to the Treaty. According to Art. IX.2, they are entitled to participate in the Consultative Meetings during such times as they demonstrate their interest in Antarctica by “conducting substantial research activity there”

Protocol to the Antarctic Treaty on Environmental Protection

  • The Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty was signed in Madrid on October 4, 1991 and entered into force in 1998.
  • It designates Antarctica as a “natural reserve, devoted to peace and science” (Art. 2).
  • Article 3 of the Environment Protocol sets forth basic principles applicable to human activities in Antarctica and Article 7 prohibits all activities relating to Antarctic mineral resources, except for scientific research.
  • Until 2048 the Protocol can only be modified by unanimous agreement of all Consultative Parties to the Antarctic Treaty.
  • In addition, the prohibition on mineral resource activities cannot be removed unless a binding legal regime on Antarctic mineral resource activities is in force (Art. 25.5).
  • The Environment Protocol established the Committee for Environmental Protection (CEP) as an expert advisory body to provide advice and formulate recommendations to the ATCM in connection with the implementation of the Environment Protocol. The CEP meets every year in conjunction with the ATCM.

Arctic Council

  • The Arctic Council is the leading intergovernmental forum promoting cooperation, coordination and interaction among the Arctic States, Arctic indigenous communities and other Arctic inhabitants on common Arctic issues, in particular on issues of sustainable development and environmental protection in the Arctic.

Who takes part?

  • The Ottawa Declaration lists the following countries as Members of the Arctic Council: Canada, the Kingdom of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation, Sweden and the United States.
  • In addition, six organizations representing Arctic indigenous peoples have status as Permanent Participants. The category of Permanent Participant was created to provide for active participation and full consultation with the Arctic indigenous peoples within the Council. They include: the Aleut International Association, the Arctic Athabaskan Council, Gwich’in Council International, the Inuit Circumpolar Council, Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North and the Saami Council.
  • Observer status in the Arctic Council is open to non-Arctic states, along with inter-governmental, inter-parliamentary, global, regional and non-governmental organizations that the Council determines can contribute to its work. Arctic Council Observers primarily contribute through their engagement in the Council at the level of Working Groups.
  • The standing Arctic Council Secretariat formally became operational in 2013 in Tromsø, Norway. It was established to provide administrative capacity, institutional memory, enhanced communication and outreach and general support to the activities of the Arctic Council.

What does it do?

The work of the Council is primarily carried out in six Working Groups.

  • The Arctic Contaminants Action Program (ACAP) acts as a strengthening and supporting mechanism to encourage national actions to reduce emissions and other releases of pollutants.
  • The Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) monitors the Arctic environment, ecosystems and human populations, and provides scientific advice to support governments as they tackle pollution and adverse effects of climate change.
  • The Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna Working Group (CAFF) addresses the conservation of Arctic biodiversity, working to ensure the sustainability of the Arctic’s living resources.
  • The Emergency Prevention, Preparedness and Response Working Group (EPPR) works to protect the Arctic environment from the threat or impact of an accidental release of pollutants or radionuclides.
  • The Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment (PAME) Working Group is the focal point of the Arctic Council’s activities related to the protection and sustainable use of the Arctic marine environment.
  • The Sustainable Development Working Group (SDWG) works to advance sustainable development in the Arctic and to improve the conditions of Arctic communities as a whole.

2 . North East Natural Gas Pipeline Grid

Context : The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has given its approval for North East Gas Grid project of Indradhanush Gas Grid Limited with viability Gap Funding/ Capital Grant at 60% of the estimated cost of Rs 9265 crore (Including interest during construction). Quantum of VGF would be capped at 60% of estimated project cost and would not be linked with upward capital cost variation.

About National Gas Grid Project

  • Total length of pipeline is 1656 KM and tentative project cost is Rs 9265 crore.As per the plan, Gas Pipeline Grid would be developed in the eight states of the North-Eastern region i.e. Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura.
  • The Capital Grant will provide natural gas supplies to various types of consumers viz. Industrial, PNG(Domestic),  CNG  (Transport)   etc.   and   would   immensely help   in substituting the liquid fuels. The pipeline grid would ensure reliability and uninterrupted natural gas supplies to the consumers which otherwise gets severely affected due to various reasons in this part of the country.
  • Availability of Natural gas across the region is expected to boost industrial growth without impacting the environment and would offer better quality of life to the people in general due to use of cleaner and green fuel.
  • For effective monitoring of the project implementation, a Committee comprising of officials from Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas, Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Development of North East Region, Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change, and Department of Fertilizers, may be formed, which would periodically review the progress in implementation of the project and take steps to smoothen out any issues in execution.

Socio-Economic and Environmental Benefits

  • Development of industrial climate in eight states of the north-eastern region i.e. Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura.
  • Reduction in the usage of kerosene, wood etc. due to increased usage of environment friendly fuel natural gas thereby improving the environment in the region.
  • Improvement in the standard of living of peoples living in the region.
  • It will boost Exploration & Production activities and connect regional gas sources with pipeline network for early monetisation of natural resources in the region.
  • Possibility of installing bottling plants for LPG can be explored for reducing transportation cost. Uninterrupted supply of LPG and other valueadded products can be ensured in the region which will bring energy security to the people in the area.


  • To usher in Gas based economy and to increase the share of natural gas in country’s primary energy mix, Government is taking focused steps viz. enhancing domestic gas production, expeditious development of gas infrastructure including pipelines, City Gas Distribution (CGD) networks and Re-gasified Liquefied Natural Gas (R-LNG) Terminals as well as development of Gas market by providing open access to gas infrastructure.
  • Indradhanush Gas Grid Limited (IGGL), a joint venture company of five CPSEs (IOCL, ONGC, GAIL, OIL and NRL) has been incorporated on 10.08.2018 to develop and operate Natural gas pipeline grid in North-East region. Petroleum & Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) has also issued provisional authorization to IGGL on 14.09.2018 for the development of North-East Gas pipeline grid.

3 . Operation Sankalp

About Operation Sankalp

  • In the backdrop of the deteriorating security situation in the Gulf region, post attacks on merchant ships in the Gulf of Oman in Jun 19, Indian Navy had commenced Maritime Security Operations, code named Op SANKALP, in the Gulf Region to ensure safe passage of Indian Flag Vessels transiting through the Strait of Hormuz.
  • Indian Navy warships and aircraft were deployed to establish presence, provide a sense of reassurance to the Indian merchantmen, monitor the ongoing situation and respond to any emergent crises. One war ship is presently deployed for Operation SANKALP.

4 . Revised Mutual Legal Assistance

Context : In furtherance to Government of India’s policy of zero tolerance for crime and in an endeavor to fast track the dispensation of justice, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has taken steps to enhance and streamline the process of international mutual legal assistance in criminal matters. The MHA has issued Revised Guidelines for Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters in December 2019.

About Mutual Legal Assistance

  • mutual legal assistance treaty (MLAT) is an agreement between two or more countries for the purpose of gathering and exchanging information in an effort to enforce public or criminal laws.

About the Revision

  • The revised guidelines provide step-by-step guidance to the investigation agencies for drafting and processing Letters Rogatory / Mutual Legal Assistance Requests and Service of Summons, Notices & other Judicial Documents.
  • By incorporating various legal and technological developments in the recent years, it aims to make the documentation in this regard more precise and focused as well as compliant with International requirements.  
  • The guidelines have also taken into account the concerns raised by various courts for prompt and timely responses in service of documents on persons residing abroad. As an initiative, the revised guidelines have provision for service of documents on authorities of foreign country preferably within 10 days of receipt of request in respect of offences committed against women and children.

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