Titagarh (West Bengal): India has embarked on an ambitious Rs10,000-crore deep sea mission, likely to commence by the year end, to explore and mine mineral wealth beneath the ocean floor, a top government official said on Tuesday.

Ministry of earth sciences secretary Madhavan Nair Rajeevan said on Tuesday that the Rs10,000-crore project was an interministerial and interdisciplinary project. “It is expected to begin from end of the year year," Nair said. Speaking on the sidelines of a programme to mark the commencement of ship-building by Titagarh Wagons Ltd, he said that a cabinet note on the project was under preparation.

Rajeevan said India was open for technical tie-ups with several countries in this regard. He said that the mission intended to harness the ocean’s resources in a “responsible way" and could turn out to be a transformative step for the prosperity and security of the nation. The project would have a huge impact for the benefit of the country’s deep ocean energy, deep sea fishing and minerals among others, Rajeevan said. The sea water desalination project of Rs2,000 crore at the Chennai coast is also taken up under the mission that aims to eliminate the potable water problem for the city. The Exclusive Economic Zone allotted to India in the international waters will be covered under the deep ocean mission.

The oceans that surround the Indian peninsula have over 1,300 islands. They give India seven-and-a-half thousand kilometres of coastline and 2.4 million square kilometres of the Exclusive Economic Zone. They contain enormous opportunities in energy, food, medicine and a host of other natural resources. China is also working on deep sea mission for mining mineral deposits in the Indian and Pacific oceans.

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