Thursday, April 7, 2011

Exclusive Economic Zone: India's EEZ to increase to three million sq km

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: India will soon have exclusive economic rights over an additional one million sq km in the seas surrounding it with the city-based National Geophysical Research Institute and the National Institute of Oceanography providing the much-needed scientific evidence.

At present India enjoys exclusive economic zone that extends up to 200 nautical miles from the coast in the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian sea and the Indian ocean. The total area will go up to three million sq km, increasing the EEZ by almost one-third. This in other words means the economic benefits, including gas hydrates and natural resources hidden in the seas, the country will reap will be 33 per cent more than that of the present.

With the two premier scientific research institutes coming out with scientific evidence, India can now lay claim on an area that extends up to 350 nautical miles. This will add another one million sq km of legal continental shelf to the country. The scientific data was submitted to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf at the United Nations (CLCS) recently.

Exclusive economic zone is an area that extends into the sea from the coastal line over which a nation has privilege over exploitation and exploration of the natural wealth. Once the CLCS clears the proposal, India will have exclusive economic rights up to 350 nautical miles from the coast.

"The country will have economic rights that the exclusive to us, not only in the sea bed but also in the sub sea bed. The rights include fishing, exploration of natural and mineral wealth including crude oil and gas hydrates. The sea treasure in an area up to 350 nautical miles will belong to India," said Dr Anil Kumar Chaubey, senior geophysicist at NIO.

Dr Chaubey was part of the scientific team that submitted evidence to the CLCS in New York. "We gave evidence with regard to water depth, sediment thickness below the sea belt and the kind of material available in the Deep," he told this correspondent.

This important work has helped India in providing the science behind its claim to extend the present EEZ. The scientific team presented details on the partial boundaries of India on the northern sides - eastern and western offshore regions for which India made its continental shelf submission to the UN.

The evidence will now be placed to the sub-commissions consisting of experts in the field and UN will then consider their recommendations for final decision, Dr Chaubey said.

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