Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has formally approved the proposal of the Union Ministry of Earth Sciences on the Deep Ocean Mission.

  • The blueprint of the Deep Ocean Mission to explore the deep recesses of the ocean was unveiled in the year 2018. Earlier, Ministry of Earth Sciences had also rolled out the draft Blue Economy Policy.
Union Cabinet approves Deep Ocean Mission

  • The estimated cost of the Deep Ocean Mission is Rs 4,077 crore over a 5-year period and will be implemented in phases. Ministry of Earth Sciences will be the nodal ministry implementing this multi-institutional ambitious mission.
    • It will be a mission mode project to support the Blue Economy Initiatives of the Indian Government.
      • The Blue Economy is the sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods and jobs, and ocean ecosystem health.
    • The technology and expertise needed in such missions is now available with only five countries – USA, France, Russia, Japan and China.
      • India will now be the 6th country to have it.
  • Major Components
    • The Development of Technologies for Deep Sea Mining, and Manned Submersible:
      • manned submersible will be developed to carry three people to a depth of 6,000 metres in the ocean with a suite of scientific sensors and tools.
      • An Integrated Mining System will be also developed for mining polymetallic nodules at those depths in the central Indian Ocean.
        • The Polymetallic nodules are rocks scattered on the seabed containing iron, manganese, nickel and cobalt.
      • The exploration studies of minerals will pave the way for commercial exploitation in the near future, as and when commercial exploitation code is evolved by the International Seabed Authority, an United Nations organisation.
    • Development of Ocean Climate Change Advisory Services:
      • It entails developing a suite of observations and models to understand and provide future projections of important climate variables on seasonal to decadal time scales.
    • Technological Innovations for Exploration and Conservation of Deep-sea Biodiversity:
      • Bio-prospecting of deep sea flora and fauna including microbes and studies on sustainable utilization of deep sea bio-resources will be the main focus.
    • Deep Ocean Survey and Exploration:
      • The Mission will 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 detailed engineering design for offshore Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) powered desalination plants are envisaged in this proof of concept proposal.
        • The OTEC is a technology which uses ocean temperature differences from the surface to depths lower than 1,000 meters, to extract energy.
    • Advanced Marine Station for Ocean Biology:
      • It is aimed at the development of human capacity and enterprise in ocean biology and engineering.
      • It will translate research into industrial application and product development through on-site business incubator facilities.
  • Significance:
    • Oceans, which cover 70 per cent of the globe, remain a key part of our life. About 95 per cent of the Deep Ocean remains unexplored.
    • The 3-sides of India are surrounded by the oceans and around 30 per cent of the country’s population living in coastal areas, the ocean is a major economic factor supporting fisheries and aquaculture, tourism, livelihoods and blue trade.
      • India has a unique maritime position. Its 7517 kilometer long coastline is home to nine coastal states and 1382 islands.
      • Indian Government Vision of New India by 2030 announced in February 2019 highlighted the Blue Economy as one of the 10 core dimensions of growth.
    • Oceans are also a storehouse of food, energy, minerals, medicines, modulator of weather and climate and underpin life on Earth.
      • Considering the importance of the oceans on sustainability, the United Nations has declared the decade, 2021-2030 as the Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.
  • Other Blue Economy Initiatives:
    • India-Norway Task Force on Blue Economy for Sustainable Development :
      • It was inaugurated jointly by both the countries in 2020 to develop and follow up joint initiatives between the two countries.
    • Sagarmala Project:
      • The strategic initiative for port-led development through the extensive use of IT enabled services for modernization of ports.
    • O-SMART:
      • India has an umbrella scheme by the name of O-SMART which aims at regulated use of oceans, marine resources for sustainable development.
    • Integrated Coastal Zone Management:
      • It focuses on conservation of coastal and marine resources, and improving livelihood opportunities for coastal communities etc.
    • National Fisheries Policy :
      • India has a National Fisheries policy for promoting ‘Blue Growth Initiative’ which focuses on sustainable utilization of fisheries wealth from marine and other aquatic resources.

Union Cabinet approves Deep Ocean Mission Union Cabinet approves Deep Ocean Mission