A cargo vessel sailing along the very wide Hugli river at Diamond Harbour, West Bengal

India's extensive 7,500 km coastline is dotted with a dozen major ports and some 200 minor and intermediate ports. The Government of India's Port Trust of India runs all the major ports. Minor ports are guided by state governments. India's ports handled an estimated 980 million tons of cargo during 2013-14. Kandla (Gujarat) port's cargo throughput was a record 82.5 m tons in the same year. The JNPT container terminal and NSICT (31st largest container port in the world) are the largest container handling ports with an approx. 60 % share of a total of 6.7 m containers (TEUs) handled at Indian ports in 2007-08. Container throughput at Indian sea ports is estimated to to increase to 21 m TEUs by 2016 at the current rate of growth. The Shell Group/Total operates a 2.5 mtpa liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal and port at Hazira, Gujarat. New greenfield ports under construction include the Krishnapatnam port in southern Andhra Pradesh.

The gross Indian shipping tonnage reached almost 9.3 million GT's (Gross Tons) at the end of 2008 and the number of vessels grew to 912 in Jan '09. India is in fact among the 20 largest shipping nations globally on the basis of merchant fleet size. The number of vessels grew to 839 in the same period. The average age of an Indian ship is presently around 18 years.

A view of the outer Visakhapatnam harbour and fishing harbour. Vizag Port, the largest Indian port, handled 67.4 million tons (just behind Kandla) of cargo in 2011-12. The port's capacity is planned to be increased to 110 million tons by 2011-12 through an estimated Rs 30 bn expansion programme. Iron ore, coking coal and oil products are some of the bulk items handled by this natural harbour. The underutilised container terminal is operated by Visakha Container Terminal Pvt. Ltd. The terminal handles some 70,000 TEU's annually. The new multi-purpose deepwater port at Gangavaram began operating in 2008. (top left corner of image).

Inland Waterways

Although inland water transport has a rich legacy in India, road and rail transport play a dominant role in inland transport. India at present has three national waterways, the National Waterway No 1 (NW-1) ie Ganga-Bhagirathi-Hugli river system, the NW-2 ie Brahmaputra and the NW-3 ie the West Coast Canal. The total length of navigable rivers and canals is about 14,500 kms.

National Waterways of India
NW 1Allahabad to Haldia, 1620 kms (U.P.,Bihar, Jharkhand and W.B.)Ganga-Bhagirathi-Hooghly river system. Large fluctuations in water levels.
NW 2Sadiya-Dubri, 891 kms (Assam)Trade with Bangladesh takes place by the use of this waterway.
NW 3Kollam-Kottapuram, 205 kms (Kerala)Includes the West Coast Canal, Champakara and Udyogmandal canals. NW3 is a tidal canal.

State waterways include Goa's 275 km network of navigable waterways, including the Mandovi and Zuari rivers. Iron ore is transported by barges (some 240 operate in Goa) from ore mines to the ports of Mormugao and Panaji.


Major/Intermediate/Minor Ports of India
PortCargo Handled
(Million Metric Tons) : 2011-12
Ship Calls
Visakhapatnam 67.4 46,7362 109
Kolkata/Haldia 43.2 350,0003 127
Chennai 55.7 1,120,000*1 857
Kandla 82.5 177,0002 124
Mumbai 54.6 138,201 6 088
JNPT/Nhava Sheva International Container Terminal
Gateway Terminals India
65.8 3,300,0002 380
New Mangalore 32.9 21,460* 1,144*
Mormugao 39.0 10,011
Paradip 54.3 2,000 1,636*
Kochi 20.1 203,0001 225
Tuticorin 28.1 377,102 1 533
Ennore 15.0 - 201
Port Pipavav ca 200,000¹
Mundra ca 28* 671,000¹ 1,169 (Apr-Dec07)
Kakinada Anchorage Port
Kakinada Deep Water Port
Krishnapatnam (2nd phase to be commissioned in 2012)nanana
*: Apr07 - Mar08
¹ 2007
² 2004

A view of the Gangavaram Port being developed just south of Vizag. The port was comissioned in 2008.

A view of the Vizag Port located in north-western Andhra Pradesh. The Indian Navy Eastern Naval Command (one of the three area commands along with Mumbai and Kochi along the western coast) is headquarted in Vizag.

A view of Chennai harbour. A record 137,000 cars were exported through Chennai port in 2007-08. Other ports facilitating auto exports include JNPT at Navi Mumbai. Mundra Port in Gujarat in building an auto terminal. The Chennai Container Terminal, operated by Dubai Ports, handled 1.12 million TEU equivalent containers during the same period. A new terminal targeted to handle upto 5 million TEU's is in the planning stage.


India has 23 shipyards, eight of which are in the public sector. India's share of the global shipbuilding sector is currently less than half a percent but is projected to grow upto 15 per cent by 2020 due to cost competitiveness and readily available skilled labour force in India. India's shipyards have a cargo carrying capacity of 2.8 million tons and are building (as at Feb 2008) 245 ships of various sizes valued at more than Rs 200 billion.

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