NIO playing a major role in understanding science of the North Indian Ocean: Vice-President

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Panaji, March, 26, 2019… Oceans are of vital importance for the wealth and the well-being of present and future generations stated Vice President of India Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu at National Institute of Oceanography, Donapaula today.

Addressing after interacting with the Scientists of CSIR- National Institute of Oceanography, Donapaula and witnessing short presentation of Scientists from different groups on Ocean and Climate Change, Biogeochemistry, Biological oceanography, Marine Resources from Ocean, Marine Archaeology and Marine Instrumentation  Shri Naidu said that after becoming the Vice President, he has decided to visit various scientific and research institutions to interact with scientists for a better understanding of the work being undertaken by them and share his thoughts.

Speaking further Shri Naidu said, Oceans are of vital importance for the wealth and the well-being of present and future generations. They hold 97 per cent of the planet’s water, while two per cent is found in glaciers and ice caps and only one per cent comprises earth’s fresh water.

We are aware of the fact that oceans produce more than 50 per cent of the world’s oxygen and absorb 40 per cent of the carbon dioxide, buffering the impact of global warming, underlines the crucial role played by them. Thus, they help in regulating the global climate. Oceans cover 72 per cent of the surface of our blue planet and provide humankind with food, minerals, energy, fresh water and oxygen. They regulate climate, emission absorption and shoreline protection and support livelihoods as well as job creation. Indeed, oceans are our life support system, he added.

Vice-President further said currently, it is estimated that more than three billion people depend on marine and coastal resources for their livelihoods. Enhancing more than 80 percent of global trade, marine and coastal environments constitute a key resource for economic development. Considering the importance of oceans on the life and sustenance of humanity, the United Nations has taken steps to declare the period 2021–2030 as the Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. Further, the Sustainable Development Goal 14 (SDG-14) proposed by UN, which deals with life below the waters, emphasizes the importance of oceans in modulating and sustaining life.

With this background, it is important to prioritize our efforts in ocean science and technology to achieve the national goal of transforming India to be the third largest economy in the coming 10-15 years the Vice-President added.

Shri Naidu said, that he is happy to learn that CSIR-National Institute of Oceanography an autonomous body of the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India is doing research on different aspects of Ocean such as the impact of climate change, marine biodiversity, coastal hazards such as coastal erosion and storm surge, marine hazards like tectonics and slumping of seabed.

Vice-President said that foundation of ocean science is mostly based on observations. To take up ocean observation studies, scientists like you need appropriate tools and platforms. I am told that research vessels are an ideal platform to do ocean observations. Research vessels and their equipment represent a significant technological asset.

He said, he is glad that two dedicated ocean-going vessels, RV Sindhu Sankalp and RV Sindhu Sadhana are managed by CSIR-NIO.  With these two dedicated vessels, he is sure that CSIR-NIO will be able to carry out all the relevant studies in India’s Exclusive Economic Zone, which constitutes 2/3rd of our land area.

Shri Naidu said, from the presentations made to be me by different groups, I understand that CSIR-NIO is playing a major role in understanding science of the North Indian Ocean such as dynamics of its circulation, basin-wide bio-geo-chemistry and tectonic framework of basin evolution.

He said, he was informed that the efforts of CSIR-NIO led to establishing India as a pioneer in poly-metallic nodule mining with an allocated mining site of 75,000 sq. km in the central Indian Ocean. CSIR-NIO helped to prepare India’s claim for a legal continental shelf with an area of about a million square kilometres and this institute launched India’s Antarctic research programme in the early 1980s the Vice-President added.

The Vice-President said, he is also happy to note that the CSIR-NIO provides specialized services to society in addressing ocean-related problems, in addition to its planned research projects. |He said, this institute has successfully carried out more than 1300 projects funded by oil & gas companies, ports, power plants, chemical industries, municipalities and industrial estates.

Shri Naidu said, he understand that CSIR-NIO has also carried out Marine Environmental Impact Assessments for several prestigious and nationally important developmental projects such as Sea Bird Project of Indian Navy at Karwar and others involving offshore prospecting for oil and gas by ONGC, HPCL, IOC and BPCL among others, he added.

 Speaking further Shri Naidu said, development along the coast has been increasing over the years. He said, Government of India has already planned development of ports and allied facilities through Sagarmala. Different coastal economic zones are planned. The Sagarmala project, which seeks to modernize ports through IT enabled services, is expected to give an impetus to the economy.

With India looking towards oceans for the economic growth through the Blue Economy, important institutions like NIO will have to step up their research in areas such as ocean energy and marine energy. It should be noted that India is meeting most of its oil and gas requirements through imports. Scientists should study the potential of renewable energy derived from the ocean– from wind, wave and tidal sources.

He said, the objective of the Blue Economy is to promote smart, sustainable and inclusive growth and employment opportunities through maritime economic activities within the Indian Ocean region. India should fully tap the enormous potential of the Blue Economy to achieve higher economic growth trajectory and initiate appropriate programs for sustainable harnessing of ocean resources, research and develop relevant sectors of oceanography. However, while pursuing the “blue growth”, every effort must be made by all the stakeholders, including private and public sectors, to prevent further degradation of the ocean and its ecosystems.

In view of global warming, resource degradation, and marine pollution, Shri Naidu said, we have to conserve and sustain our oceans as time is running out. Hence, CSIR-NIO should play a major role through dense ocean observations and high-resolution ocean models over the Indian Ocean to meet the challenges in understanding different ocean processes due to climate change, he added.

The Institute should also act as a nodal centre for Blue economy related research and technology development. There is a need to focus on ocean centric technology to harness the marine resources economically for sustained growth of India. Development of technologies for deep sea mining, underwater vehicles and underwater robotics for extraction of minerals should be initiated. NIO should also undertake research on development of drugs from the sea.

The Vice-President said that he strongly felt that focused approach in some of the areas such as minerals from the ocean, energy from ocean can make India a global leader and serve our national goals.

After witnessing short presentation of Scientists from different groups Vice-President visited foyers such as Marine Aquarium, Seahorse, Marine Instrumentation, Marine Minerals and Archaeology at NIO, Donapaula.

Earlier on his arrival at NIO, the Vice-President of India was received by Prof. Sunil K. Singh, Director, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, National Institute of Oceanography, Secretary for Protocol, Shri W.V.R Murthy and others.

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