India, SACEP to tackle marine pollution in South Asia

Government of India and the South Asian Cooperative Environment Programme (SACEP) will joint forces to tackle oil and chemicals-induced pollution in the South Asian seas region

March 28, 2018

The agreement intends to promote closer cooperation between India and other nations in South Asia such for protection and preservation of marine environment in the region

Under the agreement, Indian Coast Guard (ICG) will be the national authority and national operational contact point for implementation of the Regional Oil Spill Contingency Plan

The SACEP jointly with the International Maritime Organisation has developed a Regional Oil Spill Contingency Plan to facilitate international cooperation and mutual assistance

Indian Government’s agreement with SACEP comes at a time when the South Asia region has seen a sharp rise in both marine traffic as well as offshore oil and natural gas exploration

India’s Union Cabinet, chaired by PM Narendra Modi, has approved signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Government and the South Asian Cooperative Environment Programme (SACEP) for cooperation on the response to oil and chemicals-induced pollution in the South Asian seas region. The agreement intends to promote closer cooperation between India and other nations in the South Asian seas region such as Bangladesh, Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka for protection and preservation of marine environment in the region. Under the agreement, Indian Coast Guard (ICG) will be the national authority and national operational contact point for implementation of the Regional Oil Spill Contingency Plan. The ICG will respond to oil and chemical spills on behalf of Government of India.
Further, ICG Maritime Rescue Coordination Centres (MRCCs) will be the national emergency response centre for marine incidents. In order to promote and support protection, management and enhancement of the environment in the South Asian region, the Governments of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka established the SACEP in 1982 in Sri Lanka. The SACEP jointly with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) developed a Regional Oil Spill Contingency Plan to facilitate international cooperation and mutual assistance in preparing and responding to a major oil pollution incident in the seas around the Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The latest partnership is proof of increasing economic activities in the developing region.
The agreement with SACEP comes at a time when the South Asia region has seen a sharp rise in both marine traffic as well as offshore oil and natural gas exploration. While promising strong economic growth, these activities bring along risks of leakages and spills of oil-based products into sea water. Last year, the Indian Government has reached an agreement with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to set up an international training centre in India to support activities related to operational oceanography. Operational oceanography concerns systematic oceanographic studies to support economic activities in international waters. The collected information also aids conservation, disaster management, defence activities as part of day-to- day operations.