Among the policy’s highlights are an accounting system for assessing the blue economy’s development, as well as mapping of India’s coastal zones for integrated coastal and marine spatial plans.
According to a draught of the policy released by the ministry of earth sciences for public comment on Monday, India is working on a Blue Economy Policy that aims to improve island tourism, marine biotechnology, deep-sea mining, and the ocean energy sector through creative financing and business models.
The policy’s highlights include a framework for assessing the blue economy’s development, mapping of India’s coastal zones for integrated coastal and marine spatial plans, and dealing with marine pollution, especially microplastics and plastics.
Other aspects of the policy include aquaculture, seaweed and algae farming, and sustainable marine capture; marine biotechnology for non-food sectors; and an increase in the economy and jobs through the growth of ports, fisheries, shipbuilding, and coastal and cruise tourism (including island tourism and development). The draught is open for public consultation until February 27.
“Appropriate schematic programmes and encouraging the private sector to invest in new market opportunities will provide a quantum and qualitative boost to both of these. Marine biotechnology, deep-sea mining, and ocean energy will all be marketed as new and developing fields. Since these emerging industries are capital intensive, innovative funding and business models will be explored,” according to a draught policy published on the India Meteorological Department’s website.
The policy also emphasises the importance of marine clusters for port-led growth, as envisioned in the Centre’s Sagarmala programme. With an emphasis on Make in India and Aatmanirbhar Bharat (Self-Reliant India) initiatives, the shipbuilding industry will be promoted and modernised in 30 years.
Marine diplomacy is also included in the strategy, with engagements with neighbouring countries to protect strategic interests. The Seychelles-Singapore-Samoa (SSS) axis, which stretches from the East Coast of Africa to the Western Pacific Ocean, is one such emerging economic and strategic axis, according to the study.
“In the next five years, the draught policy aims to substantially increase the contribution of the Blue Economy to India’s GDP, improve the lives of coastal communities, protect our marine biodiversity, and ensure the protection of our marine areas and resources,” according to the draught policy. Today, the Blue Economy has the potential to be the next multiplier of economic development and well-being, if the plan prioritises sustainability and socio-economic welfare,” the draught concludes.
The draught policy was put together by the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister (EAC-PM) based on the recommendations of seven working groups under the Blue Economy initiative.
India is in a unique role in terms of its maritime position. It has nine coastal states and 1,382 islands along its 7,517-kilometer-long coastline. India has 12 major ports and 187 minor ports that handle around 1,400 million tonnes of cargo each year, with ship transport accounting for 95 percent of the country’s trade volume.
India’s Exclusive Economic Zone, which covers over two million square kilometres and contains substantial recoverable crude oil and natural gas resources, is rich in both living and non-living resources. According to the policy, the coastal economy supports over 4 million fishermen and other coastal communities.
“The draught policy combines several current economic objectives with a long history in coastal and marine areas, such as island tourism, port-led growth, and deep-sea mining, and frames them as blue economy. Building over coastal lands and mining from the sea are the two primary priority areas. It just pays lip service to the environmental issue and ignores the consequences for coastal communities. In effect, the draught document would provide policy rationale for a number of changes that are currently being implemented in order to accommodate the text’s goals.Changes to legislation, approval of new projects, and land acquisition all depend on policy documents of this kind, none of which have been implemented, evaluated, or disclosed by the government so far,” Kanchi Kohli, legal researcher at the Centre for Policy Research, said in response to the draught policy.