• India
  • Mar 16

Explainer / O-SMART scheme

Union Minister Jitendra Singh said that Rs 2,177 crore is allocated for implementation of O-SMART scheme from 2021-22 to 2025-26.

Ocean Services, Modelling, Application, Resources and Technology (O-SMART) scheme

• Oceans play an essential role in almost all aspects of human existence. They also aid scientific and technological explorations and breakthroughs. For several years, oceans have been proceeding in various parts of the world due to factors such as climate change.

• The Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in India — an expanse of more than 2 million sq km of the sea — holds immense potential for scientific exploration with a wide variety of living and non-living resources. 

• Research and development of programmes on oceans in India were initiated by the Department of Ocean Development (DOD) which was set up in 1981.

• The DOD was amalgamated with the ministry of earth sciences (MoES) in 2006 given the importance of creating synergy between ocean development, earth sciences with atmospheric sciences and geosciences. Since then, innumerable scientific developments, field installations, demonstrations, and achievements have been accomplished by MoES in this field. 

• In November 2021, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved the continuation of the umbrella scheme ‘Ocean Services, Modelling, Application, Resources and Technology (O-SMART)’ for the 2021-26 period at a cost of Rs 2,177 crore.

• The scheme on O-SMART aims at providing ocean information services, exploration and survey of oceans and resources, developing technologies for sustainable utilisation of ocean resources (both living and non-living), and promoting front ranking research on ocean sciences.

• It is a central sector scheme mandated for technology development for oceanic application, services (forecast and advisories) and R&D activities in the marine as well as coastal environment. 

• A fleet of oceanographic and coastal research vessels of the ministry provide required research support for the scheme.

O-SMART is being implemented by autonomous/attached institutes of the ministry. They are: 

i) National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT), Chennai

ii) Indian National Center for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), Hyderabad

iii) National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR), Goa

iv) Center for Marine Living Resources and Ecology (CMLRE), Kochi

v) National Centre for Coastal Research (NCCR), Chennai as well as involving other national institutes. 

Major components of the umbrella scheme are: 

• Centre for Marine Living Resources and Ecology—Marine Living Resources Programme

• National Centre for Coastal Research

• Ocean observation and network

• Ocean advisory and information services, computational infrastructure and communication systems

• Ocean — modelling data assimilation and process specific observations

• Ocean science and technology for islands

• Harnessing ocean energy for generating freshwater

• Manned and unmanned underwater vehicles

• Marine sensors, ocean electronics and acoustics

• Operating and maintaining research vessels

• Seafront Research Facility

• Studies on gas hydrates

• Polymetallic nodules

• Polymetallic Sulphides

• Geoscientific studies of exclusive economic zone

• Extension of the continental shelf

• Deep Ocean Mission (DOM)

The significance of the scheme

• The present decade has been declared as the Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development by the United Nations (UN) and the scheme would strengthen the stand in the global oceanographic research and technology development. 

• This scheme would contribute significantly towards national policy on blue economy for effective and efficient use of the vast ocean resources in a sustainable way. 

• Efforts towards achieving United Nations Sustainable Development Goal-14 to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources are being covered through the coastal research and marine biodiversity activities. 

• Significant contribution to the national GDP is being made and to be continued through the ocean advisory services and technologies developed benefiting communities and several sectors working in the marine environment, particularly in the coastal states of India.

• In the next five years (2021-26) this scheme would provide further comprehensive coverage through strengthening the ongoing activities towards delivering cutting edge technology applicable for marine domain, forecast and warning services to various coastal stakeholders, understanding biodiversity towards conservation strategy for marine living organisms and understanding coastal processes.

• O-SMART being a multidisciplinary continuing scheme, the ongoing extensive research and technology development activities would augment capacity building of the nation in the oceanographic field at the international-level.

• The ministry is following applicable guidelines for assessment of environmental impact for developing underwater vehicles and technologies. 

• The underwater vehicles developed under the scheme are environmentally safe and do not cause any appreciable effects. 

• The deep sea mining machine is developed and deployed as per the guidelines laid down by the International Seabed Authority (ISA) and the impact is monitored between, during and after the deployment as per the guidelines of ISA.

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