First bid in 50 years seeks to define & regulate activities as new players enter
BENGALURU: The draft of the country’s first Space Law, unveiled on Tuesday, stipulates licences for all space-related players and activities. The draft also sets out penalties of ₹1 crore and above and jail terms for violations.
The proposed Space Activities Bill, 2017 that will go before Parliament, also seeks to keep the government out of any liability arising out of harm that these commercial activities may cause — to people, environment, other countries or outer space.
So far, the national space agency Indian Space Research Organisation’s major works have related to satellites, launchers and applications. These were governed by the Satellite Communication Policy, 2000; the Remote Sensing Data Policy, 2011; and international treaty obligations on outer space activities as mandated by the UN Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space or UNCOPUOS.
New body proposed
The draft Bill defines objects, people and geography that will come under the future law. While all persons or entities engaged in space will now need a licence, the government will form a new authorised body for this purpose.
The Centre will keep a registry of all space objects.
The draft has been posted on the website of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). Stakeholders have a month to send in their comments, according to a note signed by G. Ravi Shankar, Under Secretary in the Department of Space.
Explaining the need for a Space Law now, the notification says increasing applications of Space-based solutions have meant an increased participation of private sector industry and startups. “Commercial opportunities in space activities and services, nationally and internationally, demand a higher order of participation by private sector agencies. This situation demands a necessary legal environment for orderly performance and growth of space sector,” it said.
A.S. Kiran Kumar, ISRO Chairman and Secretary, Department of Space, stated at an industry event in Delhi on Monday that the country needed to at least double the number of its 42 functional satellites in order to meet national demands. ISRO has started the process of selecting industry teams to quickly build spacecraft and launch vehicles for it in the next two to three years. It also launches many foreign spacecraft for a fee on the PSLV launcher.
According to a senior DoS official who requested not to be named, “Until now, ISRO being the only player never felt the need for a separate law. Now, many Indian and foreign companies are setting up shops here as well as 20-odd Indian startups. It is very important now that to have a regulatory mechanism and law to govern these activities.”
The draft clearly defines space players, licences, violations, the official said, adding that detailed specific guidelines may come in later for each activity in consultation with stakeholders and industry bodies. The draft law is available at: https://www.isro.gov.in/update/21-nov-2017/seeking-comments-draft-space-activities-bill-2017-stake-holders-public-regarding
Source: The Hindu