DOD proposes creation of `ocean commission'

Hyderabad Jan. 28. The Department of Ocean Development (DOD) is proposing creation of an "ocean commission" at the national level so that all efforts on ocean issues are effectively coordinated.

The DOD is also contemplating mapping ocean resources and evolving guidelines for proper stewardship so that they are sustainable and utilized with minimum environmental impact. These are some of the salient features of the DOD's vision for ocean development upto the year 2015.

Explaining the plans of the DOD in the years to come, the department's secretary, Harsh K. Gupta, said that the Central Government is planning to set up another station in Antarctica, in addition to the existing stations - Dakshin Gangotri and Maithri - with an estimated Rs 170 crores. "Given the kind of scope the continent gives for scientific studies about the planet earth in its pristine state, we are hoping for a forward looking Antarctica programme in the near future,'' he said participating in a workshop on "Ocean and Antarctic Sciences in India - Current Programmes and Emerging Frontiers'' organised at the National Geophysical Research Institute here on Tuesday.

The workshop was a part of series of similar programmes being organised by the NGRI to mark the diamond jubilee celebrations of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.

According to Mr Gupta, the Government is also planning to take up projects pertaining to conversion of the thermal energy of the Indian ocean into electrical energy and towards this end, a barge - Sagar Shakti - would be commissioned by Feb 15.

The concept is totally environmental-friendly and the department would start with a 1 megawatt pilot project shortly. "We are in the process of preparing a framework, a deliverable framework on understanding the Indian ocean and related processes which will help in modelling sustainable use of coastal zones,'' he said.

Speaking on the occasion, the former member (science) of the Planning Commission, S.Z. Qasim, said that in the light of the hectic research by countries like China, United States of America and other countries in Antarctica for mineral and petroleum wealth, it was time the country thought about priorities for taking up research activities in the continent. "It is time we think whether we only want to prove our existence in Antarctica or something more,'' he said.

The director of the NGRI, V.P. Dimri, welcomed the participants comprising scientists from different departments involved in oceanic studies.

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