India’s Deep Ocean Mission
Set to reveal new boundaries
“To me, the blue Chakra or the wheel in India’s national flag represents the potential of the blue revolution or the ocean economy. That is how central the ocean economy is to us”, quoted by PM Modi in the policy framework of India’s Blue Economy.
India is amongst those few nations that perform dedicated ocean studies and missions. Strengthening the nation’s grip in the ocean region, India has embarked on a historic decision.
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved the proposal of the Ministry of Earth Sciences on the “Deep Ocean Mission”. The decision aims to explore the deep ocean for resources and develop deep-sea technologies for sustainable use of ocean resources. This mission mode project is expected to support the blue economy initiatives of the government and the project has been granted Rs. 4077 crore for 5 years. In the initial phase, the estimated cost would be Rs 2823.4 crore.
It is important to understand that oceans cover 70 percent of the globe and about 95 percent of the deep ocean still remains unexplored.
To begin with, let’s discuss the major components of the Deep Ocean Mission.
Primarily, Deep Ocean Mission entails the development of technologies for deep-sea mining and manned submersible. To carry three people to a depth of 6000 metres in the ocean with a suite of scientific sensors and tools, a manned submersible will be developed under this mission. Moreover, an Integrated Mining System will be also developed for mining polymetallic nodules from 6000 m depth in the central Indian Ocean.
Besides, the Mission also includes the development of Ocean Climate Change Advisory Services which will further lead to a suite of observations and models. These observations are expected to play a major role in providing future projections of important climate variables and promoting coastal tourism.
To support the marine fisheries and allied services, technological innovations will also be taken into account for the exploration and conservation of deep-sea biodiversity. In addition, to identify potential sites of multi-metal mineralization along the Indian Ocean, a deep ocean survey and exploration will also be conducted.
Besides, the Mission will also focus on studies and detailed engineering design for offshore ocean thermal energy conversion powered desalination plants and will also lead to the development of human capacity and enterprise in ocean biology and engineering.
It is worth noting that the technologies required for deep-sea mining have strategic implications and are not commercially available. Hence, the nation is making continuous attempts at indigenous technologies by collaborating with leading institutes and private industries. Under the Deep Ocean Mission, a research vessel for deep ocean exploration would be built in an Indian shipyard, thus creating employment opportunities.
Now, let’s get to know about India and ocean developments.
For India, the ocean is a major economic factor supporting fisheries and aquaculture, tourism, livelihoods and blue trade. Oceans hold immense significance for the country as India is surrounded by oceans from 3 sides and around 30 percent of the country’s population resides in coastal areas.
It is worth mentioning that India was among the first in the world to create a Department of Ocean Development in 1981, now the Ministry of Earth Sciences. India has come a long way with the launch of new programmes such as “Deep Ocean Mission,” “Oceanography from space” and “Launching of the data buoys” along the Indian coastline.
Apart from this, the Ministry of Earth has also joined the United Nations on the “Clean Seas Programme” to develop strategies for estimating and reducing Marine Litter/Plastic in the oceans and has also signed two contracts with the International Seabed Authority for deep ocean exploration of minerals in the Indian Ocean.
In order to reap the benefits of growth in these sectors, India is moving towards a sustainable policy for both upstream and downstream activities. With its unique maritime position, the nation is ready to explore the unexplored and is set to perceive the vision of New India.
The Union Cabinet has approved @moesgoi ambitious proposal 'Deep Ocean Mission'
— MoES GoI (@moesgoi) June 16, 2021