Hyderabad-based numerologist, astrologer and stock market analyst Raajeev Baagdi (formerly Rajeev Bagdi) made headlines in 2005 after he claimed to have bought five acres of plot on moon. But in the wake of Chandrayaan-2's successful launch, Raajeev is back in the news again. This time, for seemingly taking a step towards achieving his dream of visiting his piece of lunar land.
In 2003, Raajeev who also runs an Ayurvedic store, told the media that he had bought a piece of land on Moon through a US-based website called LunarRegistry by paying $ 140 USD which translates to an equivalent of Rs 9,662 in today's Indian currency. His so-called purchase records claim that he has property in the Mer Imbrium region of the Moon, registered at the 'Lunar Registry' in New York City.
Speaking with TNM, Raajeev says, “I am always curious and was searching online for something like this, then I saw an ad on the internet which said, ‘Gift a plot for your loved ones’. I like risky ventures, so I bought it.”
“I had a vision, a foresight, that one day my grandchildren would be able to thank me for having such a foresight,” he continues. His cousin, Lalit Mohata, has also bought a piece of land on the Moon, Raajeev says.
Raajeev is not the first to make such a claim. Among other Indians who claim to have plots on the Moon include Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput. Actor Shahrukh Khan has apparently been gifted a piece of Moon land from a fan, from the same website.
The only problem is that you can't actually buy land on the moon.
The Outer Space Treaty and other reasons why the Moon is not for sale
However, it is not possible to own land on Moon. For one, it goes against the principles of the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, known simply as the Outer Space Treaty.
“The exploration and use of outer space shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interests of all countries and shall be the province of all mankind; outer space shall be free for exploration and use by all States,” according to the treaty, which was signed by several countries including the US, UK, Russia and India.
Crucially, it also notes, “outer space is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means.”
Stephen E Dole, honorary director of the International Institute of Space Law, told BBC Telugu, “The moon is like a sea of water that is out of the control of any country.” He said it would not be acceptable for the Moon to have a national allotment or private real estate property.
Alan Wasser, the founder of Space Settlement Initiative, an US-based organisation, which proposes legislation authorising lunar land claims, told BBC Telugu, “No one owns the Moon, and, by international treaty, no nation can ever own the Moon."
“The companies selling "Lunar Land Deeds" were selling them as novelty items, not legal deeds, since they didn't own the land in question. So the deeds have no legality,” he added.
That means people like Raajeev, Shahrukh Khan and Sushant Rajput have no claim over Moon.
Raajeev, however, is not fazed by this. “As per the Treaty, even if we don’t get the land it is fine. It was a risky venture even in the beginning and I was ridiculed for my decision and continue to be. I hope that in future these rules change, and we can have Moon tourism.”