From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Deep Ocean Mission
Mains level : Various aspects of DOM
The Union Cabinet has approved the long-pending Deep Ocean Mission since 2018.
Deep Ocean Mission (DOM)
- Nodal Agency: Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES)
- 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 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).
Six major components
(1) Development of Technologies for Deep Sea Mining, and Manned Submersible:
- A manned submersible will be developed to carry three people to a depth of 6000 metres in the ocean with suite of scientific sensors and tools.
- Only a very few countries have acquired this capability.
- An Integrated Mining System will be also developed for mining Polymetallic Nodules from 6000 m depth in the central Indian Ocean.
(2) Development of Ocean Climate Change Advisory Services:
- A suite of observations and models will be developed to understand and provide future projections of important climate variables on seasonal to decadal time scales under this proof of concept component.
- This component will support the Blue Economy priority area of coastal tourism.
(3) Technological innovations for exploration and conservation of deep-sea biodiversity:
- Bio-prospecting of deep-sea flora and fauna including microbes and studies on sustainable utilization of deep-sea bio-resources will be the main focus.
- This component will support the Blue Economy priority area of Marine Fisheries and allied services.
(4) Deep Ocean Survey and Exploration:
- The primary objective of this component is to explore and identify potential sites of multi-metal Hydrothermal Sulphides mineralization along the Indian Ocean mid-oceanic ridges.
- This component will additionally support the Blue Economy priority area of deep-sea exploration of ocean resources.
(5) Energy and freshwater from the Ocean:
- Studies and detailed engineering design for offshore Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) powered desalination plant are envisaged in this proof of concept proposal.
- This component will support the Blue Economy priority area of offshore energy development.
(6) Advanced Marine Station for Ocean Biology:
- This component is aimed at the development of human capacity and enterprise in ocean biology and engineering.
- This component will translate research into the 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.
Why need such a mission?
- Oceans, which cover 70 per cent of the globe, remain a key part of our life. About 95 percent of the Deep Ocean remains unexplored.
- For India, with its three sides surrounded by the oceans and around 30 per cent of the country’s population living in coastal areas.
- The ocean is a major economic factor supporting fisheries and aquaculture, tourism, livelihoods and blue trade.
- Oceans are also a storehouse of food, energy, minerals, medicines, modulator of weather and climate and underpin life on Earth.
Pre-requisites to this mission
- India has been allotted a site of 75,000 square kilometres in the Central Indian Ocean Basin (CIOB) by the UN International Sea Bed Authority for the exploitation of polymetallic nodules (PMN).
Hunt for PMNs
- These are rocks scattered on the seabed containing iron, manganese, nickel and cobalt.
- Being able to lay hands on a fraction of that 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.
- India’s Exclusive Economic Zone spreads over 2.2 million square kilometers.