In a strategic move, India will invest Rs. 750 crore in the next five years to counter presence of big brother China in oceans including the disputed South China Sea off the coast of Vietnam.
Country's top scientific minds on Wednesday decided to allocate the money to existing scientific organisation including Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Geological Survey of India (GSI) to enhance India's capabilities in deep sea mining.
"We will like our presence felt in deep sea mining," said minister of state for science and technology Ashwini Kumar, after a decision in this regard was taken at a meeting in Planning Commission.
Only a few countries such as China, United States, Russia and South Korea has capabilities to conduct mining below the sea surface to extract oil and other rare minerals such as Titanium, Platinum, Manganese, Copper, Cobalt and Nickel.
In addition to minerals, the government is looking at its vast 2,500 sq km ocean bed to produce ocean thermal energy and discover new drugs and food items. "There is a lot we can get from the Oceans," Kumar said.
But, deep sea mining is a highly specialized job and needs sophisticated vessels for it. The ministry of earth sciences has a vessel, Sagar Nidhi, to explore minerals at a depth of 6000 meters from the sea surface. In July, a much modern vessel will join the work and in couple of years there would be one more costing Rs. 200 crore.
Planning Commission member in-charge of science and technology K Kasturirangan said the decisions taken at the meeting would enhance India's scientific abilities. In this regard, the panel agreed to provide funds for identifying 200 scientists and 2000 researchers for enhancing India's super-computing ability. The money will also be used to set up 200 specialised centers connected to the National Knowledge Network.
The panel also approved a proposal allowing Bhaba Atomic Research Centre to acquire 2014 Peta flop super computer to enhance its nuclear research capabilities. In addition, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to get a super computer of 360 tera flops. Flops is a measure of computing ability. Peta flops is a level higher than tera flops.
Kumar said the decisions will infuse scientific temper in the 12th five year plan to make India competitive in the world market and will bridge "scientific and technological" gaps. "PM has told me that the money will not be a constraint to improve scientific temper in the country," he said.