The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs on Wednesday approved the Ministry of Earth Sciences' 'Deep Ocean Mission' to explore deep ocean for resources and develop deep sea technologies for sustainable use resources.
"The decision was taken by the Union Cabinet at its meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This will support the blue economy and take India into a new era," Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said during a press conference on the decisions taken by the Cabinet.
The project will be implemented phase-wise, and the estimated cost of the mission will be Rs 4,077 crore for 5 years. The estimated cost for the first phase of three years (2021-2024) would be Rs 2,823.4 crore, the government said in a statement.
"Deep Ocean Mission with be a mission mode project to support the blue economy initiatives of the Government of India. Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) will be the nodal ministry implementing this multi-institutional ambitious mission," it said.
Under the mission, a manned submersible will be developed to carry three people to a depth of 6,000 metre in the ocean with suite of scientific sensors and tools, while an integrated mining system will be also developed for mining polymetallic nodules from 6,000 metre depth in the central Indian Ocean.
"The exploration studies of minerals will pave way for the commercial exploitation in the near future, as and when commercial exploitation code is evolved by the International Seabed Authority, an UN organisation. This component will help the blue economy priority area of exploring and harnessing of deep sea minerals and energy," the government said.
Besides, studies will also be carried out on climate change, and for exploring and conservation of deep-sea biodiversity. An advanced marine station for ocean biology will also be set up. "This component will translate research into 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," it said.
The technologies required for deep sea mining have strategic implications and are not commercially available, the government said, adding that attempts will be made to indigenise technologies by collaborating with leading institutes and private industries.
The Mission will also provide job opportunities in Indian industries. "In addition, 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 start-ups," the government said.
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