Any Budget is not a mere collection of numbers, but a vision holding our values and inclinations.
Budget ’21 may have come as normal budget in abnormal times but it seemed to be harbinger of our ever increasing efforts to heal Nature, especially the over-exploited coastal areas and disenchanted coastal communities.
The Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has proposed to set up a multi-purpose seaweed park in Tamil Nadu, 5 major fishing hubs at Kochi (Kerala), Chennai (Tamil Nadu), Visakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh), Paradeep (Odisha), and Petuaghat (West Bengal) leading to substantial investments in the development of modern fishing harbours and fish landing centres. Also announced is the allocation of Rs 4,000 crore for five years in trust of Deep Sea Mission(introduced earlier in 2017).
With CRZ(coastal regulation zones) and Madhav Gadgil’s insights, India has taken a significant step to protect its coastal areas. Along with Megaproject Sagarmala, we endure to connect our coasts: creating Coastal Economic Zones (CEZs) and Coastal Economic Units, enhancing port connectivity via road, rail, multi-modal logistics parks, pipelines & waterways and promoting coastal community development simultaneously.
Therefore we are witnessing a considerable shift towards exploiting the greater potential embedded inside our waters in times when land productivity is constantly falling.
One of the cost-efficient and environment-friendly technique is Seaweed farming, another jewel in the crown.
Using this technique, extensively available sea areas can be cultivated to produce crops that require no freshwater or fertilizers, while providing a variety of valuable ecosystem services like preservation of corals(deeply affected by deep Sea nets), helps in Carbon sequestration as it stores Carbon in the form of food through photosynthesis, absorbs great amounts of Nitrogen too(another pollutant for water) and many more such ecosystem services.
Seaweeds can be used for extracting commercial products such as Karrageenan and Agar, in the production of polysaccharides, fertilizer, sludge and other high-value products such as nutraceuticals and cosmeceuticals. It can serve as an alternative plant-derived food and go a long way in addressing the nutritionally security of a large segment of undernourished and underprivileged marginal communities in addition to the accruing economic benefits to them.
If being a tropical country means facing more vulnerabilities like disturbed climate and much anticipated food shortages(in due times), then why not explore the sea potential left so unexplored, which can help in nutrient cycling and known to inflict lesser harm to Environment.