At a time when India is gearing up to explore the potential of the maritime sector with the Global Maritime India Summit, scheduled to take place from October 17-19, Karnataka offers a host of potential avenues for investment.
With more than 300 km of coastline, one major port, twelve minor ports, rail and road networks that connect these ports and numerous tourist destinations, Karnataka has a vibrant maritime ecosystem. Its stakeholders see vast scope for investment in these segments of the State.
Issac Vas, former President of Kanara Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), says the New Mangalore Port (NMP) and several minor ports in the State create a robust network for maritime activities. These ports can be strategically leveraged for both domestic and international trade, making Karnataka an attractive investment destination, he added.
According to AV Ramana, Chairman of NMP Authority, NMPA is planning to showcase their current infrastructure and future investable projects by participating in the exhibitions in collaboration with its trade partners such as terminal operators, importers, exporters and logistic service providers across the value chain.
The potential for developing the minor ports to handle cargo is also immense, says Mohammed Ameen, Managing Partner of a company involved in Karnataka’s logistics sector. Minor ports such as Belekeri and Tadadi in Uttara Kannada district can be thought of for handling iron ore, steel and coal. Steel manufacturing companies from Ballari and Hospet regions can make best use of these facilities due to their proximity to these ports, he said.
Stating that investments in logistics and warehousing facilities near the ports are crucial, Vas said efficient logistics operations and modern warehouses can streamline cargo movement and reduce transit times, making the region more attractive to businesses.
Ameen added that establishment of proper cold storage facilities can help boost the investment opportunities for sea food exports from minor ports such as Honnavar and Byndoor.
Vas said investment opportunities can be considered in exploring the potential for offshore wind and other renewable energy projects along the Karnataka coastline. Renewable energy initiatives can complement traditional maritime activities, making the sector more sustainable, he added.
Emphasising the need for taking up environmentally sustainable practices in maritime operations, he said investments in eco-friendly technologies and adherence to international environmental standards should be encouraged.
Yatish Baikampady, a coastal tourism promoter, says there is a need to develop artificial reefs beyond 800 metres of the shore. Such reefs will lead to the growth of more marine life and help prevent erosion along the shore. This will encourage thebeach-side activities along with empowering the local communities economically. Such reefs can also boost scuba diving activities along the shores.
Suggesting the need for creating marinas at selected locations along the 300-plus km coastline, he said foreign travellers can come and dock there and domestic travellers can also get an opportunity to explore tourism experiences along the coast.
Vas said there is a need to develop infrastructure and services to attract tourists, including beach resorts, water sports and cruise terminals which can diversify the economic base and create jobs.
NMPA is in the process of upgrading its dedicated cruise infrastructure in the port, says Ramana. With this, the port hopes to normalise the non-cargo business to pre-Covid levels with around 26 cruise vessel calls to the port bringing more than 27,000 passengers to the region.