The Ports & Shipping industry in India is growing rapidly and contributing to economic progress. The ports sector in India is being driven by high growth in external trade. Read here to know the significance of the Indian Ports and Shipping sector for economic progress.
India has a coastline that is more than 7,517 km long, interspersed with more than 200 ports.
Most cargo ships that sail between East Asia and America, Europe, and Africa pass through Indian territorial waters.
The ports sector in India is being driven by high growth in external trade. In FY22, all key ports in India handled 650.52 million tonnes (MT) of cargo traffic.
Maritime History of India
India has a rich maritime heritage and the earliest reference to maritime activities is contained in the Rig Veda.
There is plenty of evidence derived from Indian literature, art, sculptures, painting, and archaeology to establish the existence of Indian maritime traditions.
A study of the country’s maritime history reveals that the Indian sub-continent exercised supremacy over the Indian Ocean from very early times up to the 13th century.
- Indians took to the sea for trade and commerce rather than for political ends.
- Thus, the period up to about the 16th century witnessed peaceful sea-borne commerce and cultural and traditional exchange between countries.
The Indian Ocean has always been regarded as an area of great significance and India is central to this Ocean.
Read here: Maritime History of India
Ports & Shipping industry in India
India comprises a significant size maritime sector with 12 Major and 200+ Non-Major Ports situated along its 7500 km long coastline and a vast network of navigable waterways.
- The total cargo handling capacity of Indian ports is about 2400 mn tonnes per annum (MTPA).
- Ports in India handle approximately 95% (by volume) and 68% (by value) of India’s external trade.
- India is one of the world’s top 5 ship recycling countries and holds a 30% share in the global ship recycling market.
- India ranks 18th in the World’s Shipping Tonnage.
- India is the 16th largest maritime country in the world
- India has 12 Major ports and about 200 non-major ports.
- India has a merchant fleet of 1491 seagoing ships with a total capacity of 13 Mn GT.
Ports in India are classified as Major and Minor Ports according to the jurisdiction of the Central and State government as defined under the Indian Ports Act, of 1908.
- All the 12 Major Ports are governed under the Major Port Trusts act, of 1963, and are owned and managed by the Central Government.
- All the Minor Ports are governed under the Indian Port Act, of 1908, and are owned and managed by the State Governments.
Under Maritime India Summit 2021, 486 MoUs were signed for Maritime India Summit 2021 by 22 Maritime Ports/Agencies/Authorities for USD 47.02 bn across different subsectors.
India has become the fourth country in the world to have its independent Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS).
The Indian ports and shipping industry plays a vital role in sustaining growth in the country’s trade and commerce.
Major ports in India
- Kamarajar (Ennore)
- O Chidambaranar
- New Mangalore
Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) Special Economic Zone (SEZ) became the first of its kind operational port-based multi-product SEZ in India.
Government initiatives for the Ports & Shipping industry
The Indian Government plays an important role in supporting the ports sector.
- It has allowed Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) of up to 100% under the automatic route for port and harbor construction and maintenance projects.
- It has also facilitated a 10-year tax holiday to enterprises that develop, maintain, and operate ports, inland waterways, and inland ports.
The Government has taken several measures to improve operational efficiency through mechanization, deepening the draft, and speedy evacuations.
- Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, the Ministry of Ports, Shipping & Waterways, and the Ministry of State for Road Transport & Highways, signed a tripartite agreement for the swift development of modern Multi Modal Logistics Parks (MMLP) under Bharatmala Pariyojna across the country.
- The Draft Indian Ports Bill 2022, aims to centralize the administration of minor ports that are currently managed by state governments.
- The Inland Vessels Bill 2021 was approved by the Lok Sabha. Instead of distinct regulations created by the states, the bill attempts to include a single legislation for the country. The registration certificate issued under the new law will be valid throughout the country and state approvals will not be necessary. The bill also establishes a single database for recording vessel and crew information on an Internet portal.
- In July 2021, the Marine Aids to Navigation Bill 2021 was passed by the Parliament, incorporating global best practices, technological developments, and India’s international obligations in this field.
- In June 2021, the Ministry of Ports, Shipping, and Waterways, and the Ministry of Culture signed an MoU for cooperation in the development of the National Maritime Heritage Complex at Lothal, Gujarat.
- Under the Sagarmala Programme, 143 projects were completed, while 190 projects have been awarded and are under implementation.
- Under the National Perspective Plan for Sagarmala, six new mega ports will be developed in the country.
- Maritime India Vision 2030 (MIV 2030) identifies over 150 initiatives across 10 themes covering all the facets of the Indian maritime sector and is a comprehensive effort to define and meet national maritime objectives.
Increasing investment and cargo traffic point towards a healthy outlook for the ports and shipping industry in India.
Providers of services such as operation and maintenance (O&M), pilotage and harboring and marine assets such as barges and dredgers are benefiting from these investments.
Domestic waterways are a cost-effective and environmentally sustainable mode of freight transportation. The government aims to operationalize 23 waterways by 2030.
There are numerous investment opportunities in the ports & shipping sector in India such as in areas of Shipbuilding, Ship repair, Ship recycling, Development of inland waterways and inland water transport, Port and harbor construction projects, and Port and harbor maintenance projects.
-Article written by Swathi Satish
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