- A five-year, ₹8,000-crore plan to explore the deepest recesses of the ocean has finally got the green signal from the government.
- The ‘Deep Ocean Mission (DOM)’ to be led by the Union Earth Sciences Ministry will commence from October 31.
- The mission proposes to explore the deep ocean similar to the space exploration started by ISRO.
- Underwater robotics and ‘manned’ submersibles are key components of the Mission which will help India harness various living and non-living (water, mineral and energy) resources from the seabed and deep water.
- The tasks that will be undertaken over this period include deep-sea mining, survey, energy exploration and the offshore-based desalination.
- These technological developments are funded under an umbrella scheme of the government – called Ocean Services, Technology, Observations, Resources Modelling and Science (O-SMART).
Exploring our EEZs
- Exclusive Economic Zones (EZs) are boundaries prescribed by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) which give the rights to a state regarding the exploration and use of marine resources.
- India has been allotted a site of 75,000 sq. km. in the Central Indian Ocean Basin (CIOB) by the UN International Sea Bed Authority for exploitation of polymetallic nodules (PMN).
- These are rocks scattered on the seabed containing iron, manganese, nickel and cobalt.
- Being able to lay hands on even 10% of that reserve can meet the energy requirement 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.
- India’s Exclusive Economic Zone spreads over 2.2 million sq. km. and in the deep sea, lies “unexplored and unutilised”.