New Delhi, Dec 7 : China's 15-year contract with the International Seabed Authority (ISBA) for prospecting and exploring for polymetallic sulphides in the southwest Indian Ocean ridge is beyond India's national waters and jurisdiction, parliament was informed Wednesday.

China Ocean Mineral Resources Research and Development Association (COMRA) has concluded the contact with ISBA and the Chinese exploration will be carried out under the regulatory framework in an area beyond the national jurisdiction of any state on the high seas, Defence Minister A.K. Antony said in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha.

Antony also said India had been granted Pioneer Investor status under the UN Convention of Law of the Seas (UNCLOS) and presently holds the contract to explore about 75,000 sqkm for polymetallic nodules in the central Indian Ocean basin.

"India is also working towards exploration of polymetallic sulphines and efforts are targeted to study the sea floor hydrothermal systems," he added.

Assuring the MPs that the government kept a constant watch on all developments concerning national security and commercial interests, Antony said India also took all necessary measures to safeguard them in accordance with the prevailing security situations and strategic considerations.

To another question, he said the government is "fully seized" of the security needs of the country and the defence strategy and doctrines are being constantly refined keeping in view the changing security paradigm.

"Augmentation of capabilities of the armed forces and deployment of tactical equipments is a dynamic and continuous process and is based on operational requirements and threat perception. The armed forces are prepared to meet all challenges. Effective border management is carried out through surveillance and regular patrolling," he added.

The defence minister also noted that there were "no inputs" of any joint military exercise between Pakistan and China in the border areas of Guarat and Rajasthan in recently months.

On the Chinese infrastructure build-up along the borders with India, Antony said the government is aware that Beijing is undertaking development works and this was being "closely" watched by India.

He said India had identified 73 of its border roads as strategic, of which 15 had been completed, 39 are scheduled for completion in 2013 and the remaining 19 by 2016.

"Accretion of forces and augmentation of its capabilities is a continuous process and deployment is carried out keeping in mind the operational requirements and threat perception. Effective border management is carried out through surveillance and regular patrolling," he added.

To another question, Antony said it was possible in the future for China to construct and deploy three aircraft carriers and that this was indicated by open domain inputs, apart from strategic and tactical scenarios.

"Our forces are prepared for any eventuality," he added.


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