India to invest Rs 8000 crore on a deep ocean mission, all you need to know

By Prarthana Mitra

To replicate ISRO’s achievements in space research, the Ministry of Earth Sciences Ministry is putting serious thought into Deep Ocean Mission (DOM) to unlock the mysteries of the unending blue. The Rs 8000 crore project, which has the government’s full support, aims to explore the depths of the ocean to make deep-sea mining a reality.

Breaking new waves

With over 2.2 million sq km of India’s Exclusive Economic Zones lying underwater, we are yet to tap into the potential lying beyond the peninsular shorelines. Besides, the United Nations has also apportioned a site of 1,50,000 sq km in Central Indian Ocean Basin for the mining of polymetallic nodules, an alloy of iron and manganese hydroxides.

DOM involves two key projects at the moment, one that uses a tidal-powered desalination plant, and a submarine vehicle equipped to explore depths of at least 6,000 metres. This will help in extracting vital minerals like iron, nickel, manganese and cobalt from the seabed, at a time when the nation stands on the brink of a massive shortage of energy resources.

That said, the hydrosphere is not only a treasure trove of rare and depleting minerals; it also holds important secrets of the entire ecosystem that derives sustenance from it. There’s hope among Indian scientists and the administration that this deep ocean research will also generate valuable information and help us take informed decisions about climate change.

Studies have even shown that retrieving even 10% of the oceanic reserves can allay India’s energy crisis for up to 100 years. With the great strides made in space by Indian astrophysicists, it is now time for our oceanographers to try and break new waves.

The government has already greenlit a five-year plan for DOM to boost India’s capacity to explore the surrounding waters.

Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius

Deep Ocean MissionScience and Tech