World Oceans Day 2022: With vast maritime interests, the blue economy has a massive potential to push India’s economic growth. India boasts of a coastline of nearly 75000 km. Alongside growth, India also plans to become one of the largest contributors to the ‘Blue Growth,’ that supports sustainable growth in the marine sector.
The term blue economy has come to signify the multitude of ocean resources available in a country, its contribution to the economy, environmental and ecological sustainability of oceans, and how the ocean economy can be harnessed by developed and developing countries.
For India, the blue economy is a vast socio-economic opportunity. Keeping this in mind, the Ministry of Earth Sciences rolled out the draft blue economy policy last year, outlining the government’s vision and strategy to use oceanic resources.
Significance of India’s blue economy
With vast maritime interests, the blue economy has a massive potential to push India’s economic growth.
India boasts of a coastline of nearly 75,000 km. Nine states in India are coastal and 1,382 islands are part of the country.
Of the 199 ports in India, 12 major ports handle approximately 1,400 million tonnes (MT) of cargo annually. The country also has an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) spread over 2 million square km with significant recoverable resources of crude oil and natural gas.
More than four million fisherfolk and coastal communities draw their sustenance from the coastal economy.
Draft blue economy policy
The government has envisaged the draft blue economy policy to give a framework that will help unlock the country’s potential for economic growth and welfare. As per the draft policy, there are seven areas to focus on — marine fisheries, aquaculture, and fish processing; national accounting framework for the blue economy and ocean governance; manufacturing, emerging industries, trade, technology, services, and skill development; coastal marine spatial planning and tourism; logistics, infrastructure and shipping including transhipment; security, strategic dimensions, and international engagement; and coastal and deep-sea mining and offshore energy.
What is India doing?
Even as India taps into its vast coastline, the full potential of its ocean resources is yet to be harnessed.
At the second India-Nordic Summit held in May, Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited Nordic companies to invest in India’s blue economy, especially in the Sagarmala project, highlighting its potential to deliver economic growth, improved nutrition, increased food security and add new jobs. The Nordic countries include Denmark, Iceland, Finland, Norway and Sweden.
The Sagarmala project is the centrepiece of India’s push for the blue economy. Launched in 2015, the project includes augmenting coastal infrastructure, constructing ports, developing inland waterways, promoting tourism, intensifying fishing, and creating special economic zones.
There has been significant progress in the Sagarmala project in terms of capacity augmentation of major ports. The installed capacity of major ports has gone up 79 percent to 1,561 MT per annum from 871.5 MT in 2014-15. At the same time, waiting time for inbound and outbound cargo has also come down. At present, the overall turnaround time is 52.80 hours, compared with 96 hours in 2014-15. The government is also developing inland waterways to reduce the cost of transporting cargo.
Despite these achievements, the overall progress of the Sagarmala programme has been sporadic at best, as a result of inadequate fund mobilisation, land acquisition problems and limited private sector investments, The Financial Express reported.
Focus on sustainable future
Even as the Indian government promotes the growth of the blue economy, it has also recognised the importance of preserving sensitive ecosystems in the ocean and contributing to sustainable use of maritime resources. In future, India plans to become one of the largest contributors to the ‘Blue Growth,’ that supports sustainable growth in the marine and maritime sectors, The Daily Guardian reported.