The Indian Government has given its nod for an Rs.8,000 crore mission to explore the deepest regions of the oceans surrounding the country as part of an exercise to promote sustainable use of the vast living and non-living ocean resources that remain untapped. The DOM will be led by the Union Earth Sciences Ministry will commence from October 31, 2019.
- The United Nation’s International seabed Authority has allotted to India a site of 75,000 sq. km in the Central Indian Ocean Basin for exploitation of Polymetallic Nodules which are scattered on the seabed.
- The program on Polymetallic nodules was initiated at CSIR-NIO with the collection of the first nodule sample from the Arabian Sea on board the first Research Vessel Gaveshani on 26 January 1981.
- The rock like material contained several valuable metals and minerals such as Manganese, Nickel and Cobalt.
- 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.
- As per scientist, even 10% of that reserve can meet the energy requirement for the next 100 years.
- Among the key deliverables are an offshore desalination plant that will work with tidal energy and developing a submersible vehicle that can go to a depth of at least 6,000 metres with three people on board.
- A major thrust of the mission will be looking for metals and minerals.
- It is an integrated program in which several scientific departments such as Department of Science and Technology, Indian Space Research Organisation, Department of Biotechnology, Defence Research and Development Organisation, and Indian Council of Agricultural Research would work together.
- The National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) with its headquarters at Dona Paula, Goa, and regional centres at Kochi, Mumbai and Visakhapatnam, is one of the 37 constituent laboratories of the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), New Delhi.
- CSIR-NIO was established on 1 January 1966 following the International Indian Ocean Expedition (IIOE) in the 1960s.
- The institute has since grown into a multi-disciplinary oceanographic research institute of international repute. The principal focus of research has been on observing and understanding special oceanographic characteristics of the Indian Ocean.