Samudrayaan Mission: India is moving forward with the goal of becoming a developed nation by 2047. Blue economy is going to play a very important role in achieving this goal. Keeping this in mind, under the Deep Ocean Mission, the Government of India is engaged in a campaign to search to a depth of 6,000 meters inside the ocean. For this, such a vehicle is being prepared under the Mission Samudraayan project, which is capable of taking humans along with it to such a depth.
India’s Samudrayaan project on track
Union Earth Sciences Minister Kiren Rijiju informed in Chennai on June 8 that India’s mission to send a manned submersible vehicle to a depth of 6,000 meters for underwater exploration is progressing as per schedule. He also told that this vehicle will be ready soon as part of the Samudrayaan project.
Chennai’s National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) is working on this indigenous mission of India. The vehicle being prepared for this mission has been named ‘Matsya 6000’ submersible submarine. When ready, this vehicle will be able to take 3 people to a depth of 6 kilometers inside the sea.
Rapid construction of manned submersible vehicle
Kiren Rijiju, after participating in the program organized on World Ocean Day in Chennai, informed that the work of preparing the vehicle will be completed on time and he himself will monitor the progress of construction along with scientists and engineers.
India has executed the mission to a depth of 7,000 meters inside the sea without humans. Now it is preparing to carry out the manned mission to a depth of 6,000 meters. In fact, the Samudrayaan project launched by the Ministry of Earth Sciences includes both manned and unmanned exploration.
Under the Deep Ocean Mission, India wants it to be included in the selected countries of the world, like space and other areas, which have an unprecedented ability to research even in the depths of the ocean. For this, India will have to play an important and leading role in undersea exploration and develop marine resources in a sustainable manner for a balanced ecosystem.
Eye on marine research like space
Now India does not want to lag behind in any field. The way India has hoisted flags of achievements in the field of space exploration, in the same way India wants to go deep into the sea and do research. It is a very important fact that India’s space travel started many years later than countries like America, Russia and China. Despite that, today India holds the status of a great power in the space economy. India is also doing its own research in space and earning by launching foreign satellites. So far India has launched a total of 385 foreign satellites. Of these, 353 have been launched during the last 9 years. 174 million dollars have been obtained from this. Not only this, India has also earned 86 million Euros from the launching of European satellite. Now India is eyeing similar achievements even in the depths of the ocean.
Submersible Vehicle for Samudrayan Mission
The Samudrayaan mission was launched by the Ministry of Earth Sciences. As a part of this mission, India wants to send three people to a depth of 6000 meters below sea level for search. For this only a vehicle ‘Matsya 6000’ is being prepared. This vehicle is a kind of submarine, which will carry humans as well as scientific sensors and equipment for deep sea exploration. The National Institute of Ocean Technology, Chennai, under the Ministry of Earth Sciences, has designed and is now developing this vehicle. The deep-water version of the ‘Matsya 6000’ vehicle will be ready for trials by the second quarter of 2024.
Actually this vehicle is being prepared in a phased manner. First, work was done on making a manned submarine capable of going up to 500 meters deep. Then this vehicle was tested from the ship Sagar Nidhi in the Bay of Bengal. India has experience in the development of unmanned robotic vehicles and systems capable of going to a depth of 6000 meters. Based on the same experience, an indigenous manned submersible vehicle with a depth capability of 6000 meters is being developed.
The manned submersible vehicle will have a 2.1 meter diameter titanium alloy personnel area with the capacity to carry three persons. In a way, it will be a state-of-the-art submarine made of titanium, which will also have equipment to capture seismic waves rising from the ocean floor along with sensors. The entire journey of this vehicle will be recorded with 12 cameras. Its normal operating capacity will be 12 hours and in case of emergency, the operating capacity can be extended up to 96 hours.
Discovery of rare and precious mineral resources
Mineral resources like nickel, cobalt, rare earth elements, manganese can be discovered in the deep sea through a manned submersible vehicle that goes 6 km under the sea. With this vehicle, humans will be able to get these minerals hidden in the depths with their own eyes. Exploration of non-living resources like polymetallic manganese nodules, gas hydrates, hydro-thermal sulphides and cobalt crust found in the sea at a depth of 1000 to 5500 meters will also be beneficial. Along with this, different types of samples can be collected, which will be used later for analysis.
Emphasis on becoming a major force in the field of maritime research
Apart from scientific research and technical empowerment, there will be other benefits of this vehicle going so deep under the sea. The mission will also help in implementing underwater engineering innovations in asset inspection, tourism and promotion of maritime literacy.
Safe manned vehicles for deep ocean exploration need to be capable of carrying out activities such as high resolution bathymetry, biodiversity assessment, geological observation, search activities as well as rescue operations and engineering support. China is working fast in this direction. In 2020, China built the manned submersible Fengze for underwater exploration, which dived to a depth of 11,000 meters in 2021.
Undersea manned mission capability
In October 2021, India joined the select few countries in the world with the maritime mission, which have the capability to run manned missions for underwater activities. Before India, this special group included America, Russia, Japan, France and China. In late October 2021, India’s first manned sea mission ‘Samudrayaan’ was launched. A five-year timeline has been kept for the Samudrayaan mission. It has to be completed by 2025-26.
Blue Economy and Deep Ocean Mission
Deep Ocean Mission was approved by the Central Government for five years from the point of view of exploration and blue economy in the ocean. In June 2021, the Deep Ocean Mission was approved by the Union Cabinet. A total budget of Rs 4,077 crore was kept for this. For the first 3 years, April 2021 to March 2024 was considered as the first phase and the estimated cost for this was kept at Rs 2,823.4 crore. The purpose of the Deep Ocean Mission is to promote the Blue Economy approach in the development of New India. The Narendra Modi government considers blue economy as one of the ten key dimensions of development.
India had started the Deep Ocean Mission to fully exploit whatever potential the country has regarding the blue economy and to make it a partner in the country’s development story. We all know how important it is to know about the blue wealth hidden under the sea. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his Independence Day address for two consecutive years in 2021 and 2022, had mentioned the importance of the Deep Ocean Mission.
Importance of blue economy for India
Blue economy is very important for any country. According to the World Bank, Blue Economy is the sustainable use of ocean resources while preserving the health of ocean ecosystems for economic growth, better livelihoods and jobs. Its importance for us also increases from the point of view that India has a unique maritime position. India has a coastline of 7517 kilometers with 1,382 islands. This coastline is spread over 9 coastal states. The 12 major and 200 minor ports here are helpful in 95% of the country’s trade. Blue economy contributes about 4% to the country’s GDP. Thus India has one of the widest coastlines in the world. India’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) is spread over 2.2 million square kilometers. Given the large coastline and large number of beaches, the scope for ocean-based tourism for India increases considerably.
Fishing, Green Energy and Offshore Mining
The blue economy for India includes several sectors including shipping, tourism, fisheries and offshore oil and gas exploration. Now under the Samudrayaan mission, India has added the search for rare and precious mineral resources to it. The growth rate of fishing industry has been in double digit since 2014-15. The fishing industry has achieved an average annual growth of 10.87% during this period. In 2021-22, there was a record fish production of 161.87 lakh tonnes. India is the second largest producer of fish in the world and we have a fleet of 2,50,000 fishing boats. More than 4 million fishermen and many coastal cities depend on India’s coastal economy.
India is moving fast in the direction of green energy and blue economy is also going to play a big role in this. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has identified a potential of 12,455 MW of tidal power and 40,000 MW of wave power. There is also a lot of potential for the offshore mining industry in India. In view of this, the Deep Ocean Mission was announced. Under this, there is a plan to mine metals like copper, nickel, cobalt and manganese in the Indian Ocean, which is estimated to be worth $110 billion.
How important Blue Economy is for the whole world, it shows that 80% of world trade is through the sea. 40% of the world’s population lives near coastal areas. Also, more than 3 billion people in the world use the oceans for their livelihood.
Challenges related to blue economy
There are also some challenges regarding India’s blue economy. These include aspects related to the lack of ports, airports and other infrastructure in many coastal areas. In their absence, it becomes difficult to develop and expand economic activities in these areas. Along with this, there are challenges related to overfishing and marine pollution. At the same time, issues related to climate change such as rising sea level are also aspects that need attention. China’s aggressive and expansionist stance in the Indo-Pacific region is also dangerous for India’s blue economy. We have to keep focusing on tackling this challenge as well. Most of the country’s oil and gas is supplied through sea only. Because of this, the Indian Ocean region is very important for India’s economic development.
There is also full scope that the way the government has paid attention in this direction in the last few years, there is a possibility of a lot of growth in the blue economy of the country in the next few years. Overall, through the Samudrayaan project under the Deep Ocean Mission, the day is coming soon when India itself will be able to find out about the minerals hidden in the depths of the ocean. This will also open the way for new options in our Blue Economy.
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