With an eye on its mineral rich seabed, also expected to have huge oil and natural gas reserves, India is all set to file its second claim to the United Nations for getting rights over the extended continental shelf even as Sri Lanka has also filed for rights over the same area, an Indian media report said.
DNA India reported that India had made first part of its claim to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in 2009.
After filing the first part, India was trying to reach an understanding with Bangladesh and Sri Lanka with whom it has overlapping claims before going ahead with submission of second part.
“Arbitration process is on with Bangladesh. In another 3-4 months, we will file the second part of our claim,” a top government official told dna adding that there are not much issues with Myanmar and Indonesia.
As far as Sri Lanka was concerned, India was trying to reach an understanding with Sri Lanka but was not successful after which both decided to file their separate claims and reconcile while the hearing is on.
The continental shelf comprises the seabed and subsoil of the submarine areas that extend beyond its territorial sea throughout the natural extension of its land territory. Since these shelves are rich in mineral and natural resources such as oil and natural gas, every nation asserts its right on their continental shelves. Continental shelf can extend upto 350 nautical miles from the coast.
Once claims are filed, in case there are overlapping claims they are decided by the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS).
Asked about Sri Lanka’s claim on continental shelf, Sri Lanka’s high commissioner Prasad Kariyawasam told dna, “We (India and Sri Lanka) have decided to file our cases in tribunal and reconcile there. We both decided to go to the UN tribunal and file our claims separately and work towards reconciliation. It’s a long process. “
“It (process of reconciliation) would be a parallel process at the tribunal. We would facilitate tribunal’s decision by talking to each other,” said Kariyawasam.
To back its claim at UN, India over the period of 4-5 years, conducted an exhaustive 31,000 line km survey along its 7,500 km coastline.
Asked which minerals are there in the area which India would be staking claim on, the top Indian government official refused to reveal but said it is very rich and is important for India’s energy needs. He also said that ministry of external affairs (MEA) and the ministry of earth sciences (MoES) are together working on the matter with latter looking at the scientific part of it. “MEA is looking at the part of reconciling with our neighbours. They are expected to file it another 3-4 months,” the official added.