Cabinet approves ‘Deep Ocean Mission’ for use of sustainable renewable resources

The Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) “Deep Ocean Mission” was approved on Wednesday by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs—the mission envisions exploring the deep ocean for resources and develop deep sea technologies for sustainable use of ocean resources, a Press Information Bureau release said. 

Studies and detailed engineering design for offshore Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) powered desalination plant are envisaged in this proof of concept proposal. This component will support the Blue Economy priority area of off-shore energy development, the release said.

The estimated cost of the mission will be Rs 4,077 crore for a period of 5 years to be implemented in a phase-wise manner. Deep Ocean Mission with be a mission mode project to support the Blue Economy Initiatives of the government. MoES will be the nodal ministry implementing this multi-institutional mission.

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. An Integrated Mining System will be also developed for mining Polymetallic Nodules in the central Indian Ocean. The exploration studies of minerals are expected to pave way for commercial gains in the near future, as and when the commercial exploitation code is evolved by the International Seabed Authority, an UN organization.

The bio-prospecting of deep sea flora and fauna including microbes and studies on sustainable utilization of deep sea bio-resources will be a focus area. This component will support the Blue Economy priority area of Marine Fisheries and allied services, the release added.

Potential sites of multi-metal Hydrothermal Sulphides mineralization along the Indian Ocean mid-oceanic ridges will be scouted and it will support the Blue Economy priority area of deep sea exploration of ocean resources.

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 would be built in an Indian shipyard which would create employment opportunities. The Government of India’s Vision of New India by 2030 enunciated in February 2019 highlighted the Blue Economy as one of the ten core dimensions of growth.

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