Ports in India

India is 3rd largest economy globally by Purchasing Power Parity (PPP). India with a population of 1.2 billion, poor infrastructure, positive global sentiment of being a safe investment destination, offers large opportunities for trade and port sector. The focus of new government to increase water transport as a prominent mode of transportation is likely to further catalyse growth in the port sector.

Last three decades have seen more than 9.5 times growth in the cargo handling at Indian ports

State Wise Growth in Port Traffic

The growth has not been uniform across all the states of India. Some states have become more prosperous compared to others, which has been reflected in the cargo trade handled in various states.  

The requirement of raw materials for the development of infrastructure has led to large scale import. Energy deficit has also turned India into one of the largest importer of fossil fuels in the form of energy. Import and exports of finished products have led to growth of containers trade in double digit. 

Map depicting all Prominent Ports in India

Bulk Commodity contributes more than 70% to India's sea borne trade. India has historically been energy hungry country. Petroleum products and Coal are two major import items in energy sector in India. This has led to the development of large-scale infrastructure for handling crude, petroleum products and coal on Indian coast. This trend is likely to increase further. India has also been surplus in Iron Ore. Export of Iron Ore has contributed substantially to port volumes in India. Ban on Iron Ore exports by judiciary to restrict illegal mining has led to fall in Iron Ore exports volume from India. Going forward, this is likely to pick up. 

India has primarily been service economy. Export of services have constituted substantially to the GDP of country. The rise in per capita income has mostly been due to the revenue generated from export of services by companies and individuals. Higher per capita income also drives higher per capita consumption. This has led to large-scale imports of finished products in containers. Export of containerised cargo has also increased due to exports of finished products in certain category. The emphasis on Make in India campaign to create manufacturing in India is likely to further increase trade off containerised item. Sustainable growth of trade is likely to increase demand for large capacity and deep draft ports. 

India’s port sector could predominantly be divided into Major Ports and Non-major Ports. Major ports are ports governed by an act of Indian Parliament. Rest of the ports in India could be categorized as Non major Ports comprising of private ports, ports owned by state government, captive ports, etc. India now has 12 major ports, along with 176 Non-major Ports spread over 7212 kms on the coast of India.

These ports represent more than 90% of country’s international trade by volume and 70% by value. The total traffic handled by all the Indian ports during 2013-14 was around 975 Million Tonnes (mnT), where Non-major Ports accounted for close to 40% of overall traffic. Major ports are mostly located in prominent city. These ports are several decades old. Development has taken place around them since their inception. Densely populated cities have grown around them. This has led to restriction on expansion of Major Ports. The drawbacks of Major ports are acting as advantage of private ports mostly categorised under non-major ports. These ports have been created away from cities, at strategic location with well developed connectivity to hinterland. This has led to substantial shift of traffic to Non Major ports from Major Ports. The trend is likely to continue in Future.