General Studies IGEOGRAPHY

Deep Ocean Mission

Ministry of Earth Science


  • The Deep Ocean Mission is proposed as multi-ministerial multi-disciplinary programme with emphasis on development of deep sea technology, exploration of deep sea mineral resources and biodiversity, acquisition of a research vessel for exploration, deep sea observations, and capacity building.
  • Ministry of Earth Sciences is the nodal agency for implementing the programme.
  • The Deep Ocean Mission is proposed to be a Central Sector Scheme and no separate allocation for States is envisaged.
  • The funds are expected to be allocated based on the given estimates.
  • It is proposed to collaborate with non-governmental organizations for research collaboration for various components of Deep Ocean Mission.
  • Under Deep Ocean Mission, it is proposed to develop, test and demonstrate the mining technology for harvesting of polymetallic nodules from the Test Mine Site (TMS) in the allocated area of 75000 sq. km in the Central Indian Ocean Basin (CIOB).
  • A manned submersible for 6000 m depth is also proposed to be developed as an ocean exploratory tool. 


The study of the ocean in India began when the Government sponsored the program on polymetallic nodules (PMN) initiated at CSIR-NIO with the collection of the first nodule sample from Arabian sea on board the first research vessel Gaveshani on 26 January 1981.

The International Seabed Authority (ISA), an autonomous international organisation established under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, alloted the ‘area’ for deep-sea mining. India was the first country to receive the status of a ‘Pioneer Investor ‘ in 1987 and was given an area of about 1.5 lakh sq km in the Central Indian Ocean Basin (CIOB) for nodule exploration.

This was based on the extensive survey carried out by the scientists of CSIR-NIO on several research ships leading to the allocation of an area of 150,000 km2 (58,000 sq mi) to the country with exclusive right under the UN law of the sea.

India was the first country in the world, to have sponsored the exploration of deep sea mineral viz polymetallic nodules, in the central Indian Ocean basin in 1987.

In 2002, India signed a contract with the ISA and after complete resource analysis of the seabed 50% was surrendered and the country retained an area of 75,000 sq km.

Further studies have helped narrow the mining area to 18,000 sq km which will be the ‘First Generation Mine-site’.


  • India has an Exclusive Economic zone allocated 2,200,000 km2 (850,000 sq mi) which is unexplored and unutilised.
  • Exclusive Economic zones are boundaries prescribed by the United nations Convention on the law of the sea which give the rights to a state regarding the exploration and use of marine resources.
  • India has been allocated a site of 150,000 km2 (58,000 sq mi) in Central Indian Ocean Basin (CIOB) by the United Nation’s International Seabed Authority (ISA) for the exploitation of polymetallic nodules (PMN) which is an amalgamation of iron and manganese hydroxide.
  • It has been estimated that 380 million metric tonnes of PMN are available at the bottom of the seas in the central Indian Ocean.
  • It is estimated that 10% of recovery of that can meet India’s energy requirement for next 100 years.


  1. Development of technologies for deep sea mining, underwater vehicles and underwater robotics;
  2. Development of ocean climate change advisory services;
  3. Technological innovations for exploration and conservation of deepsea biodiversity;
  4. Deep ocean survey and exploration;
  5. Proof of concept studies on energy and freshwater from the ocean; and
  6. Establishing advanced marine station for ocean biology

Other sub-scheme:

  1. Development of Technologies for Deep Sea Mining, Underwater Vehicles and Underwater Robotics.
  2. Development of Ocean Climate Change Advisory Services,
  3. Technological innovations for exploration and conservation of deep sea biodiversity,
  4. Deep Ocean Survey and Exploration,
  5. Energy and freshwater from the Ocean
  6. Advanced marine station for Ocean Biology

Source: PIB

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