Ashwani Kumar announces plans for deep sea exploration
Citing China's rapid strides in deep sea mining globally, India today announced plans to explore the oceans to search for rare earth minerals to meet its future requirements.
"We have the capability to mine the ocean bed at a depth of 6,000 metres using our ship 'Sagar Nidhi'. We are inducting two more ships -- one acquired from a Korean shipyard and one built at Surat to augment our capabilities," Minister of State for Planning Ashwani Kumar told reporters here.
He said India was not looking at exploring the ocean bed for commercial profits but with a strategic purpose.
"Countries like China have taken to deep sea mining with a strategic purpose. They are maintaining their presence in the high seas by claiming to undertake deep sea mining," Kumar said.
The minister, who chaired a meeting of top officials to review the science sector, said that India can maintain a strategic presence in the areas adjoining its exclusive economic zones if it exploited its deep sea mining capabilities.
Kumar said moves were also afoot to enhance the sea mining capabilities by refurbishing an old research vessel 'Sagar Kanya'.
Rare earth minerals are required for creation of a large variety of electronic technologies including lithium car batteries, solar panels, wind turbines, flat-screen television, compact fluorescent light bulbs, and military components such as missile guidance systems.
Kumar said steps were also being taken to augment human resources in the area of deep sea mining.
Plans were afoot to pool existing resources available with various institutes like National Institute for Ocean Technology, ISRO, DRDO, Department of Atomic Energy, Geological Survey of India and others.
The minister said it was decided to create the necessary internal eco-system, human resource and demand to promote and develop high power computing in the country.
Kumar said the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre will acquire Peta flop high-computing capability through a cluster approach connected by a fibre optic switch.
"This will enable modelling and simulation of high speed nuclear process including radiation modelling coupled with atmospheric changes," he said.
Kumar said the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research will acquire and operationalise by next year a 360 tera flop shared memory processing system comparable to the best processors in the world.