Govt. plans ‘ISRO-like’ ocean mission

Looking to emulate the success of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in designing and launching satellites, the Centre has drawn up a five-year, ₹8,000 crore plan to explore the deep recesses of the ocean.

The Union Earth Sciences Ministry — tasked with coordinating the exercise — unveiled a blueprint of the ‘Deep Ocean Mission (DOM)’ on Friday.

Features of the Mission:

The focus of the mission will be on deep-sea mining, ocean climate change advisory services, underwater vehicles and underwater robotics related technologies.

Two key projects planned in the ‘Deep Ocean Mission’ report include a desalination plant powered by tidal energy and a submersible vehicle that can explore depths of at least 6,000 meters.

The ‘Deep Ocean Mission’ plan will enable India to develop capabilities to exploit resources in the Central Indian Ocean Basin (CIOB).

India has been allotted 75,000 square kilometers in the Central Indian Ocean Basin (CIOB) by UN International Sea Bed Authority for exploration of polymetallic nodules. CIOB reserves contain deposits of metals like iron, manganese, nickel, and cobalt.

It is envisaged that 10% of recovery of that large reserve can meet the energy requirement of India for the next 100 years. It has been estimated that 380 million metric tonnes of polymetallic nodules are available at the bottom of the seas in the Central Indian Ocean.

Polymetallic nodules (also known as manganese nodules) are potato-shaped, largely porous nodules found in abundance carpeting the sea floor of world oceans in a deep sea. Besides manganese and iron, they contain nickel, copper, cobalt, lead, molybdenum, cadmium, vanadium, titanium, of which nickel, cobalt, and copper are considered to be of economic and strategic importance.

International Seabed Authority (ISA) is a UN body set up to regulate the exploration and exploitation of marine non-living resources of oceans in international waters. India actively contributes to the work of the International Seabed Authority. Last year, India was re-elected as a member of Council of ISA. India’s nominees on Legal and Technical Commission and Finance Committee of the ISA were also elected last year.

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