“We are moving towards a future where the Blue Economy will be the medium to create a Green Planet.”
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi
In the post-2014 era, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken India on a visionary journey, harnessing its vast potential, bringing in newer opportunities, and taking the country to greater heights.
Blue Economy is one such area that has been high on the government agenda given its potential for robust economic growth along with welfare. With the Amrit Kaal Vision 2047 for the Indian maritime economy, the Modi government has dedicated projects exceeding Rs. 23,000 crores, marking a significant step into the future.
The term ‘blue economy’ refers to the sustainable utilisation or greening of marine and coastal resources for exploration, improved livelihoods, and economic growth without compromising the health of these ecosystems. It encompasses renewable energy, fisheries, aquaculture, shipping, and tourism, among others.
India has a unique maritime position given its extensive 7,500 kilometers coastline running across nine states, over a thousand islands, and innumerable major and minor ports. Furthermore, India boasts of an expansive Exclusive Economic Zone spanning 2.4 million square kilometers. This vast maritime domain significantly contributes to the nation's rich diversity of both living and non-living resources, including valuable reserves such as crude oil and natural gas that are ripe for exploration and extraction.
Fisheries and aquaculture are crucial sources of food, nutrition, and national income, supporting nearly 3 crore fishers and fish farmers in India. Realising the pivotal role that the fisheries and aquaculture sector can play in sustaining and enriching livelihoods, the Modi government has galvanised transformative policies and programs facilitating holistic development of the sector. The efforts took form via the Blue Revolution Scheme with an investment of Rs. 5,000 crore followed by the Fisheries and Aquaculture Infrastructure Development Fund, and creation of a dedicated Ministry for Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying in 2019.
Building upon the successes of these initiatives, the government introduced its flagship scheme called PM Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY) to further augment fisheries production, productivity, and livelihoods—keeping infrastructural development at the center.
Backed by highest-ever investment of Rs. 20,050 crore, PMMSY aims to plug critical gaps in infrastructure—right from production, technology use to post-harvest management. Under the scheme, robust physical infrastructure has taken concrete shape. In Inland fisheries, approved projects include 44,408 cages, 20,849 hectares for inland aquaculture, 11,940 re-circulatory aquaculture systems, 3,995 biofloc units, 2,855 hectares for inland saline-alkaline culture, 788 fish and 4 scampi hatcheries, and 14 brood banks.
2,255 bio-toilets in fishing vessels, 1,518 open sea cages, 1,172 upgrades to existing fishing vessels, 463 deep-sea fishing vessels, and 1,380 hectares for brackish water aquaculture, among others have been approved under the category of marine fisheries.
Under PMMSY, fishermen are also assisted with replacement boats and nets, a livelihood support during fishing ban or lean periods along with extension and support services through 2,494 Sagar Mitras and 79 Matsya Seva Kendras. Infrastructure services like fish vending centres, fish feed plants, cold storages, fish retail markets, and value-added enterprise units have also been put in place. To support aquatic health, 17 disease diagnostic centres and quality testing labs, 29 mobile centres and testing labs along with 5 aquatic referral labs have been established.
The scheme also gives adequate attention to ornamental fisheries and seaweed cultivation. Over 2100 ornamental fish-rearing units have been approved apart from covering over 46,000 rafts and more than 66,000 monoline tube nets to promote seaweed cultivation.
Further, the Kisan Credit Card scheme has been extended to the fisheries sector enhancing the small farmers’ access to institutional credit.
In alignment with its idea of inclusive development, the government has extensively promoted growth of fisheries sector in the Northeastern region. A total project cost of Rs. 1,391 crore has been approved, including construction of new ponds, integrated fish farming, re-circulatory aquaculture systems, and ornamental fisheries units.
To ensure that the benefits of PM Matsya Sampada Yojana reach every beneficiary, the government is set to launch a six-month long outreach initiative called Matsya Sampada Jagrukta Abhiyan. It shall cover 2.8 crore fish farmers and 3,477 coastal villages by February 2024.
Going ahead, PM Modi’s vision of Ports for Prosperity and Ports for Progress is revolutionising the shipping sector in the country. In this direction, the Sagarmala scheme lays ground for port-led development in the country with its focus on port modernisation and extended connectivity. Under Sagarmala, the government provides financial assistance to states for port infrastructure development, road and rail projects along with developing fish harbours, support to coastal communities, and building cruise terminals including Ro-Pax ferry services. This harnesses the vast coastline, potentially navigable inland waterways, and India’s strategic presence on key global maritime trade routes.
As a result, in the last nine years, the capacity of major ports in the country has doubled. Further, the turnaround time for big vessels today stands at less than 24 hours as against 42 hours in 2014. While the coastal cargo traffic has doubled in the past nine years of the Modi government, cargo handling of national waterways has grown by four times. Worthy of mention is India’s continuous improvement in the Logistics Performance Index. In addition, the government is conscious of the carbon footprint of such growth, hence there is dedicated effort to make the major ports carbon-neutral through a net-zero policy for the sector.
“India has a vast coastline, strong riverine ecosystem, and rich cultural heritage which create new possibilities for maritime tourism,” said PM Modi emphasising the potential that India holds in maritime tourism. Towards this, it is important to note that a National Maritime Heritage Complex is being established in Lothal—a nearly 5,000-year-old world heritage called the ‘cradle of shipping’. MV Ganga Vilas today is the world’s longest river cruise service. Going forward, an International Cruise terminal is coming up in Mumbai and modern cruise terminals are being developed in Vishakhapatnam and Chennai. In line with PM Modi’s vision, India is set to become a global cruise hub through its state-of-the-art infrastructure.
The Modi government is also establishing ship building and repair centres in multiple locations, giving a push to India’s march towards becoming one of the top five ship-building nations in the upcoming 10 years.
Decorating these efforts is the peerless Samudrayaan project under the Deep Ocean Mission. MATSYA 6000, a manned deep submersible vehicle, is intended to be utilised for deep sea exploration of rare sea minerals, polymetallic manganese nodule resources, and study deep-sea biodiversity. In addition, the government is committed to development of marine and coastal ecosystems through its initiatives like O-SMART and Integrated Coastal Zone Management, and development of offshore energy production.
Going beyond these domestic efforts, the Modi government has actively engaged in maritime diplomacy to promote the blue economy on the global stage. Through collaborations with neighboring countries and participation in international forums, India aims to foster cooperation for sustainable marine resource management. Such diplomatic initiatives not only enhance India's standing in the global community but also pave the way for shared benefits and mutual growth.
Under the leadership of PM Modi, India today is the third-largest fish-producing nation in the world, making up 8% of the global production.
However, the PM’s vision for the blue economy extends beyond immediate economic gains. By integrating environmental concerns, livelihood enhancement, and technological innovation, the government seeks to create a holistic model that sustains both nature and human prosperity, effectively meeting the Sustainable Development Goals.
In his address at the Global Maritime India Summit 2023, Prime Minister Narendra Modi highlighted that India is among the few countries with a combination of Development, Demography, Democracy, and Demand. He concluded, “At a time when India is moving towards the goal of becoming a developed India by 2047, this is a golden opportunity for you.”