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Hydrographic Pact Withdrawl by Maldives

Hydrographic Survey Pact 2019

  • It was signed between the Indian Navy and Maldives National Defence Force in 2019.
  • The pact allowed India to study the island nation’s territorial waters, ocean relief and tide levels.

Possible Reasons behind the Withdrawal of the Pact

  • Dual nature of hydrography: Non-miliary data can be helpful in military applications.
  • Maldives is apprehensive that survey data can be part of intelligence collection.
  • Current China-biased Maldivian govt. It seems to aid China’s marine surveys.

Significance of Hydrographic Survey for India

  • It helps advance non-military objectives, such as ensuring maritime safety, scientific research, and environmental monitoring.
  • It can also facilitate military aims such as surveillance of a nation’s vital coastal installations and war-fighting assets.
  • Chinese intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance ships are regularly deployed in the Indian Ocean, making it imperative for India too.
  • Mapping the ocean’s temperature profile and studying other oceanic phenomena is meant to improve sonar performance and detection of enemy submarines.
  • The Chinese plan to develop a naval base and an ocean observatory in Makunudhoo Atoll, north of Male — not far from India’s Lakshadweep Islands necessitates precautionary measures.

Lakshadweep islands

International Law on Hydrographic Survey

  • The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) does not explicitly authorise a coastal state to regulate hydrographic surveys or military surveys conducted beyond its territorial sea.
  • A littoral state may only regulate marine scientific research in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
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