The paradox couldn’t be more stark. For a country with a coastline of over 7,500 km and well over 1.5 lakh dollar-millionaires, India has hardly a marina to park its luxury yachts and boats.
The country’s lone operational marina is at Kochi, but there has been little movement in this direction up the western coast. The Kochi International Marina it was developed by the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation started operations in April 2010.
“We have been waiting for 4-5 years (to set up a marina) after having worked on several studies required by the government,” Umaji Chowgule of the Chowgule group said.
The diversified Chowgule group’s announcement in 2010 to set up in Goa what would have been India’s first marina at that time, is yet to take off. The company was planning to invest Rs40-50 crore on the proposed marina on the river Zuari in Goa.
The Maharashtra Maritime Board had earlier invited expressions of interest (EoI) to build a marina in Mumbai and on the state’s coast. There has been no headway on this.
The Mumbai Port Trust recently invited EoI for a feasibility study to build a marina at Nariman Point. “But building a marina at Nariman Point is not really possible as the water is shallow,” an expert said.
The lack of parking space, in turn, has forced the richie-rich to hold back aspirations of buying a yacht or a luxury boat. According to data provided by various importers, not a single yacht was sold this year.
“The industry has come to a standstill due to the increase in import duty from 28% to 48% post the budget this year and lack of infrastructure,” Aashim Mongia, managing director, West Coast Marine Yacht Services, said.
As per the estimates of dealers, Mumbai has around 300 registered leisure boats, while Goa has over 100 and Kochi around 60. All of these vessels are parked in berths operated by existing ports at a high cost. Besides, owners incur huge expenses on maintenance and security.
Setting up marinas can help generate additional revenue for port trusts, create jobs and save on costs for owners of luxury boats.
“The situation would change if a marina comes up and the government decides to rationalise the structure,” said captain Ajay Narang of the Yachting Association of India.
To be sure, a marina not only provides a sheltered environment for parking yachts and boats, but also offers allied activities like maintenance, spare parts, accessories, house-keeping and fuelling, with options for recreational activities and restaurants thrown in. To that extent, it’s an entire industry at work, and a job churner.
“There is no concept of marina in our Port Act. As a result, harbours are only considered as export junction. So, the government will have to devise new framework for building marinas,” said Chowgule.
Experts also point out that the country does not yet have a law for leisure boating due to security reasons.
“With no policy in place and several government agencies involved in decision-making, the future of building marinas looks uncertain,” an industry expert said. “However, we are hopeful that there will be a policy soon.”