India has 12 major and 185 medium and small ports. 12 major ports handle about 90% of our foreign trade.
Water transport has been playing an important role in Indian economy since the time immemorial. It is an easy, cheap and energy efficient means of exports and imports of heavy items. In this context role of ports become all the more important. Besides foreign trade, ports play an important role in internal trade. Many rivers are linked with major ports. These rivers carry important goods from ports to hinterland to facilitate the transportation of these goods inside the country.
Of the total sea based trade of India, more than 85% is shared by Bombay, Calcutta, Cochin, Madras and Vishakhapatnam due to both geographical and historical reasons. Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata have been centers of administration for a long time. With the increase in population of these cities commercial and industrial activities also increase. During the later half of the 19th century, railways lines were constructed, consequently from political centers they developed into great ports.
Although importance of ports in the trade of the country is continuously growing, existing port structure is inadequate. In labour and mechanical productivity Indian ports are inferior to other Asian ports. India’s coastline has few indentations hence the country has only a few major ports of trade.
• The southern side is deficient in harbours to accommodate the large vessel e.g. Chennai, Tuticorin ports
• Monsoon keeps the western ports except Bombay, Kandla & Cochin closed to traffic from May to August.
• In hinterland areas, roads and railways have not expanded significantly due to presence of Western Ghats.
• Eastern coast of country has many deltas of rivers. There is constant accumulation of sand and soil on the eastern coast, making navigation impossible. Ships have to wait for the tides to reach Kolkata & Haldia ports.
India's first International Container Transhipment Terminal was dedicated to the nation by then Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh at Vallarpadom in Kochi on Feb 11, 2011. With reduced transportation cost, produce from the country will become more competitive in the international markets which consequently increase the foreign trade volume.
Some appreciation please!