Union Cabinet approves Earth Sciences Ministry’s umbrella scheme ‘O-SMART’
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs on August 29, 2018 gave its approval for implementation of an umbrella scheme ‘Ocean Services, Technology, Observations, Resources Modelling and Science (O-SMART)’.
The CCEA, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, approved the scheme for implementation during the period from 2017-18 to 2019-20 at an overall cost of Rs 1623 crore. The scheme covers a total of 16 sub-projects, which address ocean development activities such as services, technology, resources, observations and science.
The services provided under the O-SMART scheme will provide a number of economic benefits to the user communities in the coastal areas including the coastal states and ocean sectors such as shipping, fisheries and offshore industry.
Currently, five lakh fishermen community are receiving daily information through mobile phones about things like allocation of fish potential and local weather conditions in the coastal waters. The move will help in reducing the search time for fishermen, resulting in saving of fuel cost.
• The implementation of the scheme will help address issues related to Sustainable Development Goal-14, which emphasises on the conservation of the oceans and marine resources.
• The scheme will also provide the required scientific and technological background for implementation of various aspects of the blue economy.
• The state-of-art early warning systems established under the scheme will help in effectively dealing with ocean disasters such as storm surges and tsunami.
• Besides, the technologies developed under the scheme will help in harnessing the vast ocean resources of both living and non-living resources from seas across India.
• The Ministry of Earth Sciences has proposed to continue the existing schemes for ocean sector in a focused way as a part of the umbrella scheme -O-SMART.
• India is aiming to create a blue economy for effective and efficient use of the vast ocean resources in a sustainable way, which would require a great deal of information on ocean science, development of technology and providing services.
• Under the (O-SMART) scheme, the Ministry envisages the continuation of coastal research and marine biodiversity activities, which are important in the context of achieving United Nations Sustainable Development Goal-14 to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.
• The ocean advisory services and technologies being rendered and developed under the scheme will play a significant role in the development activities over dozen sectors, working in the marine environment including the coastal states of India, contributing significantly to the GDP.
• In accordance with the Ocean Policy statement enacted in November 1982, the Ministry has been implementing a number of multi-disciplinary projects in the field of ocean development primarily to:
- Provide a suite of Ocean Information services
- Develop technology for sustainable harnessing the ocean resources
- Promote front-ranking research
- Conduct ocean scientific ocean surveys
• The Ministry has also achieved several major milestones under various programs including according pioneer status on deep-sea mining of Poly-Metallic Nodules (PMN) in an area of 75,000 square kilometers in the central Indian Ocean (CIO).
• The Ministry has also been providing a number of ocean information services to various coastal stakeholders including fishermen, coastal states, offshore industry, navy and coast guard.
• Some of the services have also been extended to neighbouring countries of the Indian Ocean Region.
• India’s ocean-related activities are now extended from the Arctic to the Antarctic region covering large ocean spaces which have been monitored through satellite-based observations.
• India has also established state-of-the-art early warning systems for ocean disasters such as tsunami, cyclones and storm surges.
• India has also signed the Antarctic Treaty System and joined the Commission of Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) for harnessing the resources. The technologies for harnessing the ocean resources are at various stages.
• Some of them have been matured and operational like low-temperature thermal desalination for islands.
• Besides, the ministry has been monitoring the health of coastal waters of India including shoreline changes and the marine ecosystem.