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Left body alleges Centre's Deep Ocean Mission to aid corporate interests

The proposal of the Ministry of Earth Sciences talks of spending Rs 4,077 crore in the next five years to explore deep ocean for resources and developing deep sea technologies for sustainable use of ocean resources

All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), the farmer and peasant front of Left party CPI-M, has alleged that the Central government's just approved "Deep Ocean Mission" is an attempt to commercialise the ecologically sensitive deep sea for the benefit of private corporate players.

The proposal of the Ministry of Earth Sciences, which got the  clearance of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on June 16, talks of spending Rs 4,077 crore in the next five years to explore deep ocean for resources and developing deep sea technologies for sustainable use of ocean resources. Since the technologies required for deep sea mining have strategic implications and are not commercially available, the proposal says the government will try to indigenise technologies by collaborating with leading institutes and private industries.

Criticising this, AIKS said that given the BJP government's "lack of transparency in arriving at such a crucial decision", it is forced to conclude that "the move is motivated to further the interest of the private corporate players which are working for newer ways to exploit nature by allowing mindless mining and related activities without paying any attention to existing grave concerns about its impact on the possible destruction of sea and coastal ecologies".

"It will have a harmful impact on the livelihood opportunities of millions of small fishermen dependent on the sea," said Hannan Mollah and Ashok Dhawale, general secretary and president respectively of AIKS, in a joint statement.  

The Deep Ocean Mission consists of six major components, namely - development of technologies for deep sea mining and manned submersible, development of ocean climate change advisory services, technological innovations for exploration and conservation of deep-sea biodiversity, deep ocean survey and exploration, energy and freshwater harvesting, and establishment of an advanced marine station for ocean biology.  

The government has also quoted the United Nations (UN) declaration of the decade, 2021-2030, as the Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development and India's unique maritime position to highlight the importance of the Deep Ocean Mission. AIKS said that by "quoting the UN declaration, without consulting any environmental body or the stakeholders, the Central Government is making a mockery of the concerns related to sustainability itself."

The organisation wants the "Mission" with corporate involvement to be scrapped.  

Also read: Govt approves mission to explore ocean resources; to spend Rs 4,077 cr in 5 years