- Minister for State for Ministry of Science and Technology and Earth Sciences informed Lok Sabha that Deep Ocean Mission would not result in any over exploitation of the marine resources by the corporate houses and will not affect the life and livelihoods of fishers in the country.
- The mission is expected to explore the deep ocean for resources and at the same time, develop deep sea technologies that can be used for sustainable use of ocean resources.
- It is also known as the Samudrayaan Mission.
- With this mission, India will be joining the elite club of nations such as the US, Russia, Japan, France, and China to develop niche technology and vehicles to carry out subsea activities.
- The Deep Ocean Mission is related to the Blue Economy.
- The government is envisioning the new India by 2030 where the focus is also on the Blue Economy.
- The Blue Economy can simply be known as economic opportunities that are related to marine ecosystems and oceans.
The activities of Deep Ocean Mission will help the components of blue economy such as:
- tourism and maritime transport,
- renewable energy,
- seabed extractive activities and
- marine biotechnology.
Need for the Mission:
- Around 95 per cent of the deep ocean remains unexplored.
- In the case of India, the country is surrounded by the ocean on three sides and has around 30 per cent of its population living in coastal areas.
- Therefore, the ocean is a major economic factor that supports fisheries and aquaculture, livelihoods, tourism, and blue trade.
- Apart from this, oceans are also a storehouse of energy, food, medicines, minerals, modulator of weather and climate and underpin life on Earth.
- India has a unique maritime position and there is a need to consider the importance of the oceans on sustainability.
Six major components:
Ocean climate change advisory services:
- Under the mission, the government will work on development of models upon observations that will provide future projections of important climate variables.
- This will be made from seasonal to decadal time scales.
- This particular component will be supporting the “Blue Economy priority area of coastal tourism.”
Technologies for deep sea mining, and manned submersible:
- The component is focused on developing a manned submersible that will be able to carry three people to a depth of 6000 metres in the ocean.
- Scientific sensors and tools can also be taken for an Integrated Mining System in order to conduct exploration services for mining polymetallic nodules.
- Polymetallic nodules, also known as manganese nodules, are potato-shaped, largely porous nodules found in abundance carpeting the sea floor of world oceans in deep sea.
- Besides manganese and iron, they contain nickel, copper, cobalt, lead etc., which are of economic and strategic importance.
- There are only a few countries that have acquired this capability.
Conducting deep ocean survey and exploration:
- The Indian government is trying to explore as well as identify potential sites that have multi-metal Hydrothermal Sulphides mineralization within the Indian Ocean mid-oceanic ridges.
- Technological innovations for exploration and conservation of deep-sea biodiversity:
- Under this component, the focus of the government will be bioprospecting of deep sea flora and fauna and also study how utilization of deep sea can be sustainable.
- Energy and freshwater from the ocean:
- For off-shore energy development, the aim under this component will be studying the detailed engineering design for offshore Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC).
- This will also power a desalination plant.
Advanced marine station for ocean biology:
- The marine stations will be formed to study ocean biology and engineering.
- This component will translate research into industrial application and product development through on-site business incubator facilities.
MATSYA 6000, is an indigenously developed manned submersible vehicle intended to be used for the Deep Sea Mission.
- These deep remote locations can be home to unique species that have adapted themselves to conditions such as poor oxygen and sunlight, high pressure and extremely low temperatures.
- Such mining expeditions can make them go extinct even before they are known to science.
Focus only on exploration guidelines:
- The deep sea’s biodiversity and ecology remain poorly understood, making it difficult to assess the environmental impact and frame adequate guidelines.
- Though strict guidelines have been framed, they are only exploration guidelines.
Environmentalists are also worried about the sediment plumes that will be generated as the suspended particles can rise to the surface harming the filter feeders in the upper ocean layers.
Concerns have been raised about the noise and light pollution from the mining vehicles and oil spills from the operating vessels.
- The technologies required for deep sea mining have strategic implications and are not commercially available.
- Hence, attempts should be made to indigenise technologies by collaborating with leading institutes and private industries.
- This mission is also directed toward capacity development in Marine Biology, which will provide job opportunities.
- The United Nations (UN) has declared the decade, 2021-2030 as the Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development and India has a unique maritime position.
- The Government of India’s Vision of New India by 2030 can be fulfilled with a successful Deep Ocean Mission.
SOURCE: THE HINDU, THE ECONOMIC TIMES, PIB