Why in News?
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved the proposal of the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) on the Deep Ocean Mission (DOM) on June 16, 2021.
What is Deep Ocean Mission?
- It is a mission to observe changes because of climate change, study more deep-sea biodiversity and explore resources and technologies.
- It involves deep sea mining through underwater vehicles and underwater robotics.
About India’s Deep Ocean Mission
- The mission consists of following six components.
- Development of Technologies for Deep Sea Mining and Manned Submersible: A manned submersible will be developed to carry three people to a depth of 6000 metres in the ocean with suite of scientific sensors and tools. An integrated mining system will be also developed for mining polymetallic nodules also called (manganese nodules containing nickel, copper, cobalt, lead, molybdenum, cadmium, vanadium and titanium; nickel, cobalt and copper are of economic importance)
- Development of Ocean Climate Change Advisory Services: A suite of observations and models will be developed to understand and provide future projections of climatic variables.
- Technological innovations for exploration and conservation of deep-seabiodiversity: Bio-prospecting of deep-sea flora and fauna including microbes and studies on sustainable utilization of deep-sea bio-resources.
- Deep Ocean Survey and Exploration: Explore and identify potential sites of multi-metal Hydrothermal Sulphides mineralization along the Indian Ocean mid-oceanic ridges.
- Energy and Freshwater from the Ocean: Studies and design for offshore Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) powered desalination plant are envisaged.
- Advanced Marine Station for Ocean Biology: Development of human capacity and enterprise in ocean biology and engineering.
- The estimated cost of the mission will be Rs. 4077 crore for a period of 5 years to be implemented in a phase-wise manner.
- Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) will be the nodal Ministry implementing this mission.
Advantages of India’s Deep Ocean Mission
The exploration studies of minerals will pave way for the commercial exploration in near future.
- The technological innovations under this mission will support Blue Economy priority area of Marine Fisheries and allied services (including coastal tourism).
- The mission will also support off-shore energy development, Marine Biology, Blue trade and Blue manufacturing.
- A research vessel to be built in Indian shipyard for deep ocean exploration would create job opportunities.
- In addition, design, development and fabrication of specialized equipment, ships and setting up of required infrastructure are expected to spur the growth of the Indian industry, especially MSME and start-ups.
- Oceans cover around 70 percent of the globe and remain a key part of our life.
- About 95 percent of Deep Ocean remains unexplored.
- India having 7517 km. long coastlineis surrounded by the ocean from three sides and around 30 percent of the population lives in coastal areas, depending on fisheries, aquaculture, tourism, livelihoods, blue trade and other economic factors.
- Oceans are storehouse of food, energy, minerals, modulator of weather and climate and underpin life on Earth.
- United Nations (UN) has declared the decade, 2021-2030 as the Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.
- The GoI’s Vision of New India by 2030 enunciated in February, 2019 highlighted Blue Economy as one of the ten core dimensions of growth.
- According to IUCN, deep ocean explorations can make those species extinct which have adapted themselves to conditions of poor oxygen and sunlight, high pressure and extremely low temperatures.
- Environmentalist are worried about the sediment plumes that may have formed after the mining.
- Another cause of concern are regarding the noise and light pollution from the mining vehicles and oil spils from the operating vessels.
Other Countries in race
- Countries including China, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Russia Cook Island and Kiribati have signed a contract with International Seabed Authority (ISA) for polymetallic nodules.