Cabinet approves India’s Deep Ocean Mission: The Union Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has given approval to the ‘Deep Ocean Mission’. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved the Rs 4,077-crore Deep Ocean Mission on Wednesday, which will be led by scientists from the Ministry of Earth Sciences. This mission is by the Ministry of Earth Sciences to conduct research on biodiversity, the impact of climate change. Moreover, it also and establishment of an offshore marine station to investigate thermal energy sources.
Moreover, the Deep Ocean Mission is one of the missions among other projects. It involves the development of a submersible vehicle that will allow a crew to descend 6,000 meters into the ocean. Also, this submersible vehicle will search the seafloor for precious metals. Moreover, if this works, India will be one of only a few countries capable of launching an underwater mission at such depths.
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The five-year inter-ministerial and inter-departmental mission will bring together researchers and experts. The Indian Space Research Organization, Defense Development and Research Organization, Department of Atomic Energy, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, Department of Biotechnology, and the Indian Navy.
What is the Deep Ocean Mission?
It is an Indian initiative to explore the deep ocean. It is primarily concerned with India’s exclusive economic zones and continental shelf. Moreover, the mission includes manned and unmanned submersibles that will explore the seafloor. The primary goal of this mission is to explore and extract polymetallic nodules made up of minerals like nickel, manganese, copper, cobalt, and iron hydroxide. These metals are useful in the production of electronic devices such as smartphones, solar panels, and batteries.
The stages of the Deep Ocean Mission are:
- Development of technologies for deep-sea mining, and manned submersible.
- Development of ocean climate change advisory services.
- Technological innovations for exploration and conservation of deep-sea biodiversity.
- Deep ocean survey and exploration.
- Energy and freshwater from the ocean.
- Advanced marine station for ocean biology.
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The division of the program is into six parts. For the first stage, “The exploration studies of minerals will pave way for the commercial exploitation in the near future, as and when commercial exploitation code is evolved by the International Seabed Authority, a United Nations organization,” says an accompanying press note.
The estimated cost of the ‘Deep Ocean Mission’ will be Rs 4,077 crore for a period of 5 years. The mission will perform in stages. Furthermore, the estimated cost for the first three-year phase (2021-2024) is Rs. 2,823.4 crores. The Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) will serve as the nodal Ministry in charge of carrying out this mission.
The stages of the Deep Ocean Mission
Cabinet approves the Deep Ocean Mission that consists of six stages. Moreover, these include the development of technologies for deep-sea mining and manned submersible. It also includes the development of ocean climate change advisory services, technological innovations for the exploration and conservation of deep-sea biodiversity. It also includes deep ocean survey and exploration, off-shore energy and fresh water from the ocean, and an advanced marine station for ocean biology.
A manned submersible with a suite of scientific sensors and tools will be made to transport three people to a depth of 6,000 meters in the ocean. In addition, an Integrated Mining System will be to mine polymetallic nodules at these depths in the central Indian Ocean. The second stage entails developing Ocean Climate Change Advisory Services. Moreover, it entails creating a set of observations and models to understand and forecast important climate variables on seasonal to decadal time scales.
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The third stage is to look for deep-sea flora and fauna, including microbes, and figure out how to use them in a sustainable way. The fourth stage is to investigate and identify potential sources of hydrothermal minerals. Moreover, they are sources of precious metals formed from the earth’s crust along the mid-oceanic ridges of the Indian Ocean. The fifth stage entails conducting research and developing detailed engineering designs. Moreover, these will be for offshore Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) powered desalination plants. Furthermore, the final component aims to develop experts in ocean biology and engineering. Through on-site business incubator facilities, this component aims to translate research into industrial applications and product development.
Important Highlights of India’s Deep Ocean Mission
- The mission will search for resources in the deep ocean and aid in the development of deep-sea technologies for the sustainable use of ocean resources.
- The mission will complete over a five-year period with an approx budget of Rs 4,077 crores.
- It will set out in stages. The first phase will implement between 2021 and 2024.
- The first phase is about to cost Rs 2,823.4 crore over three years.
- The Ministry of Earth Sciences will serve as the nodal ministry for carrying out this mission.
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The UN International Sea Bed Authority has assigned India a 75,000-square-km site in the Central Indian Ocean Basin (CIOB) for the extraction of polymetallic nodules (PMN). Also, these are rocks found on the seafloor that contain iron, manganese, nickel, and cobalt. It is estimated that 380 million metric tonnes of polymetallic nodules are available at the bottom of the Indian Ocean’s seas. The Exclusive Economic Zone of India covers an area of 2.2 million square kilometers.
Such technology and expertise are currently available in five countries: Russia, the United States, France, Japan, and China. Since the Cabinet approves India’s Deep Ocean Mission, India will become the sixth country to have it.
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