Nod for mission to explore marine resources


The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Wednesday approved the Deep Ocean mission proposal made by the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES). The mission proposes to explore ocean resources and develop deep sea technologies for sustainable use of these resources.

India has a 7,517-km coastline with nine coastal states and 1,382 islands. The government’s ‘Vision of New India by 2030’ highlights ‘Blue Economy’ as one of the ten core dimensions of growth.

The Prime Minister approved six major components of the Deep Ocean mission. To be implemented across phases, the mission will cost around Rs 4,077 crore for a period of five years. The first phase (2021-24) will cost an estimated Rs 2,823.4 crore.

A manned submersible will be developed to carry three people to a depth of 6,000 metres in the ocean with suite of scientific sensors and tools to explore deep sea mining possibilities. An Integrated Mining System will be also developed for mining Polymetallic Nodules from 6,000-m depth in the central Indian Ocean.

The project aims at commercial exploitation of deep-sea minerals according to a code developed by the International Seabed Authority, an UN organization.

The MoES said in a statement that the technologies required for deep sea mining have strategic implications and are not commercially available. Hence, attempts will be made to indigenise technologies by collaborating with leading institutes and private industries. A research vessel for deep ocean exploration will also be built in an Indian shipyard.

The mission will also develop ocean climate change advisory services, which will include the development of observations and models to understand and provide future projections of important climate variables on seasonal to decadal time scales.

Bio-prospecting of deep-sea flora and fauna including microbes and studies on sustainable utilization of deep-sea bio-resources will also be undertaken with the aim of studying, documenting and conservation of deep-sea ecology. These services will also aid marine fisheries and allied services.

A deep ocean survey and exploration will also be undertaken to “explore and identify” potential sites of multi-metal hydrothermal sulphides mineralization along the Indian Ocean mid-oceanic ridges. This component will additionally support the Blue Economy priority area of deep-sea exploration of ocean resources.

An advanced Marine Station for Ocean Biology will also be set up to develop human capacity and enterprise in ocean biology and engineering, and target translation of research into industrial application and product development through on-site business incubator facilities.


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