Ministry cited delays in procuring high-power computing devices, constructing a National Centre for Seismology building & acquiring land to set up Advanced Marine Biology Station as the reasons
The Ministry of Earth Science’s revised budget estimate was reduced by roughly 22 per cent in 2022-2023 compared to the initial estimate, according to the Parliamentary Standing Committee Report.
In 2022-2023, the budget estimate was Rs 2,653.51 crore, which was revised to Rs 2,056.47 crore.
In response, the ministry cited delays in procuring high-power computing devices, constructing a National Centre for Seismology building and acquiring land to set up Advanced Marine Biology Station.
The Advanced Marine Biology Station will integrate ongoing advanced basic and applied research in marine biology, marine ecology and related marine engineering as part of the Deep Ocean Mission, which will explore the deep ocean for resources and develop technologies for using ocean resources sustainably.
The ministry also listed the non-materialisation of tenders for constructing a research vessel for the Indian Ocean and chartering a vessel for surveying and exploring Hydrothermal deposits (mineral ores from fissures on the seabed, as other reasons.
“The Committee, therefore, recommends that the ministry should take all necessary steps towards dissolution of such hurdles and ensure that the progress on its various initiatives is not compromised,” the report read.
Of the 2022-2023 revised estimate, the ministry has spent Rs 1,341.37 crores (65 per cent) as of January 31, 2023.
Further, the government has earmarked Rs 3319.88 crore for 2023-24, which is about 25 per cent more than last year.
A part of this allocation, according to the ministry, will be set aside to pay rental charges of Rs 520 crore to the Department of Space for making and launching the INSAT 3D satellite.
The Parliamentary Committee urged the ministry to ensure the timely completion and launch of the INSAT 3D satellite.
“Any value-added data-based services that can be made available to the general public, service delivery institutions, government and law enforcement, etc., shall be done with priority,” the document read.
Of the Rs 3,319.88 crore allocated for 2023-24, 20 per cent is allocated to Atmosphere and Climate Research-Modelling, Observing Systems and Services (ACROSS), 18 per cent to Deep Ocean Mission, 15 per cent to Indian Meteorology Department, 14 per cent to Ocean Services, Modelling, Application, Resources and Technology (O-SMART) and the remaining 27 per cent to other initiatives.
ACROSS addresses different aspects of weather and climate services. At the same time, O-SMART monitors ocean development activities such as services, technology, resources, observations and science and provides the necessary scientific and technological background required for implementing various aspects of the Blue Economy.
The ministry’s plans for 2023-2024 are augmenting atmospheric, ocean and seismological observing systems, high-performance computing systems and various instruments in the Atmospheric Research Test Bed facility.
The body plans to deploy deep ocean observations and develop a model for ocean climate change advisory services, including future projections on sea level, cyclone intensity and frequency, storm surges and wind waves and ecosystem health.
Focus will also be on developing species-specific fishery advisories and deep-sea technologies to support the proposed submersible vehicle and deep-sea mining system that can operate 6,000 metres under the sea surface. The submersible vehicle will carry three personnel into the deep sea.
The ministry will also explore deep-sea minerals. Deep-sea mining involves extracting ores rich in cobalt, manganese, zinc and other rare metals from the sea floor. They contain critical minerals needed to build batteries for electric vehicles and renewable energy capacity, smartphones and laptops, according to experts.
Further, two desalination plants will be commissioned in the Lakshadweep islands.
The report mentioned that some of the initiatives by the ministry would create employment opportunities. For example, a research vessel for deep ocean exploration is expected to be built in an Indian shipyard, creating jobs.
In addition, the design, development and fabrication of specialised equipment, ships and setting up of required infrastructure are expected to spur the growth of the Indian industry, especially the micro, small and medium enterprises and startups.
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