CCEA approves Deep Ocean Mission to explore resources, develop deep-sea technologies
New Delhi, June 16, 2021
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) today approved a proposal of the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) on "Deep Ocean Mission" to explore resources and develop deep sea technologies for sustainable use of ocean resources.
The estimated cost of the mission will be Rs 4077 crore for five years and it will be implemented in phases, an official press release said.
The estimated cost for the first phase for three years (2021-2024) would be Rs 2823.4 crore.
The release said the Deep Ocean Mission will support the Blue Economy Initiatives of the Government. MoES will be the nodal Ministry implementing this ambitious multi-institutional mission.
The mission comprises six major components. A manned submersible will be developed to carry three people to a depth of 6000 metres in the ocean with a suite of scientific sensors and tools. Only very few countries have acquired this capability.
An Integrated Mining System will be also developed for mining polymetallic nodules from 6000 m depth in the central Indian Ocean. The exploration studies of minerals will pave way for the commercial exploitation, as and when commercial exploitation code is evolved by the International Seabed Authority, a UN organization. This component will help the Blue Economy priority area of exploring and harnessing deep-sea minerals and energy.
A suite of observations and models will be developed to understand and provide future projections of important climate variables on seasonal to decadal time scales under the proof of concept component. This component will support the Blue Economy priority area of coastal tourism.
Bio-prospecting of deepsea flora and fauna including microbes and studies on sustainable utilization of deep-sea bio-resources will be the main focus. This component will support the Blue Economy priority area of Marine Fisheries and allied services.
The primary objective of this component of deep sea exploration is to explore and identify potential sites of multi-metal hydrothermal sulphides mineralization along the Indian Ocean mid-oceanic ridges. This component will additionally support the Blue Economy priority area of deepsea exploration of ocean resources.
Studies and detailed engineering design for offshore Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) powered desalination plant is envisaged in this proof of concept proposal. This component will support the Blue Economy priority area of offshore energy development.
Advanced Marine Station for Ocean Biology component is aimed at the development of human capacity and enterprise in ocean biology and engineering. This component will translate research into the industrial application and product development through on-site business incubator facilities. This component will support the Blue Economy priority area of Marine Biology, Blue trade and Blue manufacturing.
The technologies required for deep-sea mining have strategic implications and are not commercially available. Hence, attempts will be made to develop indigenous technologies by collaborating with leading institutes and private industries. A research vessel for deep ocean exploration will be built in an Indian shipyard which would create employment opportunities.
This mission is also directed towards capacity development in Marine Biology, which will provide job opportunities in Indian industries. In addition, the design, development and fabrication of specialised equipment, ships and setting up of required infrastructure are expected to spur the growth of the Indian industry, especially the MSME and startups, the release added.