The Union Cabinet has approved signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and South Asian Cooperative Environment Programme (SACEP) for cooperation on response to Oil and Chemical Pollution in South Asian Seas Region.
The MoU intends to promote closer cooperation between India and other maritime nations comprising South Asian seas region namely Bangladesh, Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka for protection and preservation of marine environment in the region.
Indian Coast Guard (ICG) under Defence Ministry will be Competent National Authority and national operational contact point for implementation of Regional Oil Spill Contingency Plan under MoU. It will respond to oil and chemical spills on behalf of Government of India. Further, ICG Maritime Rescue Coordination Centres (MRCCs) will be national emergency response centre for marine incidents.
Governments of India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka had established SACEP in 1982 in Sri Lanka. Its purpose was to promote and support protection, management and enhancement of environment in the South Asian region.
The SACEP jointly with International Maritime Organisation (IMO) had developed Regional Oil Spill Contingency Plan to facilitate international co-operation and mutual assistance in preparing and responding to major oil pollution incident in seas around SACEP’s maritime states of Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC)
SASEC program is project-based partnership to promote regional prosperity by improving cross-border connectivity, boosting trade among member countries and strengthening regional economic cooperation. It was established in 2001. Its seven members are Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal and Sri Lanka. ADB is secretariat and lead financier of SASEC program. So far, it has supported 46 projects worth $9.17 billion in transport, trade facilitation, energy and information and communications technology (ICT).