New Delhi (Sputnik): The Indian government has unveiled a $1.2 billion "Deep Ocean Mission" to emulate the success of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in ocean exploration for energy, food, medicine and other natural resources that surround the Indian subcontinent.
"It has been estimated that 380 million metric tonnes of poly-metallic nodules are available at the bottom of the seas in the Central Indian Ocean," the report stated.
Under the mission, the government plans to set up an offshore desalination plant along the Chennai coast, deep sea science and fisheries and develop a submersible vehicle that can go to a depth of at least 6,000 meters with three people on board. The desalination plant would be located at least 40 kilometers away from the shore and would convert seawater into drinking water.
"The mission proposes to explore the deep ocean similar to the space exploration started by ISRO about 35 years ago," the report reads.
India needs vital minerals such as copper, cobalt, nickel and manganese for future generation manufacturing, including the production of hybrid cars and smartphones. Currently, China has a monopoly on such minerals.
In 2016, India signed a 15-year contract with the International Seabed Authority (ISA) for exploration of poly-metallic sulfides in the Indian Ocean. It is estimated that basic exploration activities would require no more than $100 million. India has a 7,500km coastline and 2.4 million square kilometers of Exclusive Economic Zone.