Sea ports have assumed enormous importance in the era of globalization, with a phenomenal expansion in world trade. The development of ports infrastructure in India is very crucial and indispensable for the increase of export volume through maritime trade.
Export is an important key components of gross domestic product (GDP), which is a base indicator for economic growth in India. According to ministry of shipping, around 95% of India’s trading by volume and 70% by value is done through maritime transport.
India has 12 major and 205 notified minor and intermediate ports. Under the National perspective plan for Sagarmala,6 new mega ports will be developed in the country. The Indian ports and shipping industry plays vital role in sustaining growth in the country’s trade and commerce.
India is the sixteenth largest maritime country in the world with a coastline of about 7500kms.The Indian Government plays an important role in supporting the ports sector. It has allowed 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 enterprise that develop, maintain, inland water ways and inland ports
The maritime agenda 2010-2020 has a 2020 target of 3010MT port capacity ,major ports in India handled 704.82 MT cargo traffic, implying a CAGR of 2.74% in FY16-FY20.
Vishakhapatnam port handles the largest cargo among all the major ports with traffic of 60MT followed by Chennai with 48 MT. There can be see advancement in corporate developments in recent years and one among them is , Adani ports &SEZ sought government’s approval for clubbing its 3 notified SEZ in Gujarat to form a mega multiple-export zone spanning over the 8500-hectare area.
Till 2010, most ports were operating over near the saturation levels of their handling capacities, resulting in high pre-berthing and turnaround time of vessels. The situation improved in 2016 in major ports. CAGR of traffic at major ports shown inclination during 2003-2014 from 5.51% to 10.74% and growth shown a slightly increase in 2018-2020 by 2.74% due to global economic crisis.
Vision of the Sagarmala programme is to reduce logistics cost for EXIM and domestic trade with, minimal infrastructure investment. This includes:
Reducing cost of transporting domestic cargo through optimizing modal mix. Lowering logistics cost of bulk commodities by locating future industrial capacities near the coast. Improving export competitiveness by developing port proximate discrete manufacturing clusters. Optimizing time/cost of EXIM container movement.
Project UNNATI was started by the Government of India to identify opportunities for improvement in the operations of major ports.
India’s sea port infrastructure has witnessed significant growth and development in recent years.
India has been actively investing in the modernization and expansion of its major sea ports. The government’s “Sagarmala” initiative, launched in 2015, aims to promote port-led development by upgrading existing ports and developing new ones.
Under this initiative, significant investments have been made in port infrastructure, including the construction of new berths, terminals, and cargo-handling facilities. This modernization drive has enhanced the operational efficiency and capacity of Indian ports, enabling them to handle larger volumes of cargo.
The concept of smart ports, leveraging technology and digitization, has gained traction in India. Several ports have implemented digital solutions to streamline processes, enhance efficiency, and improve transparency.
These include the adoption of automation, Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and data analytics to optimize port operations, cargo tracking, and vessel management. The goal is to create seamless, integrated, and sustainable port ecosystems.
The development of dedicated freight corridors, connecting major ports with industrial and consumption centers, has been a key focus in India.
Projects like the Western Dedicated Freight Corridor (WDFC) and the Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor (EDFC) aim to create efficient rail connectivity between ports and inland locations, reducing transportation costs and time. These corridors enable the seamless movement of goods, easing congestion on roads and enhancing the overall logistics infrastructure.
The government has been actively promoting public-private partnerships (PPPs) to attract private sector investments and expertise in port development. This approach has led to increased private sector participation in port operations, management, and infrastructure projects.
Private players bring in investments, technological advancements, and operational efficiency, thereby contributing to the overall growth and development of India’s sea port infrastructure.
India is strategically positioning itself as a transshipment hub in the region. Transshipment involves the transfer of cargo from one vessel to another at a port, facilitating the efficient movement of goods between different locations.
With its long coastline and central location in South Asia, India has the potential to become a major transshipment hub, providing connectivity between East Asia, Europe, and Africa. Ports like Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) and Chennai Port are focusing on developing transshipment capabilities to capture a larger share of regional trade.
India has recognized the importance of sustainable port operations and environmental conservation. Green port initiatives have gained momentum, focusing on reducing carbon emissions, promoting renewable energy sources, and adopting eco-friendly practices.
Ports are investing in solar power installations, implementing energy-efficient technologies, and adopting measures to minimize environmental impact, such as waste management and water conservation.
Indian port traffic has witnessed single digit year on year growth from 2012-13 to 2017-18. Through capacity addition has picked up pace at major ports, progress and development of new non-major ports remains tardy.
However, the port sector is expected to exhibit reasonable growth in cargo traffic in the coming years. The government is being proactive and leaving no stone unturned to ensure sector growth .It has been meeting challenges such as those related to connectivity and overcoming financial hurdles through the adoption of new and supportive policy measures. The outlook for the sector seems bright.
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