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Indian Ports: an overview

October, 2013


Having a coastline of more than 7, 517 km of length, Indian port sector encompasses of over 200 ports. Indian territorial waters give way to most of the cargo ships that sail between East Asia and America, Europe and Africa.

There are 13 major and about 200 non-major ports in the country. A rising need for robust port infrastructure, strong growth potential, favourable investment climate, and sops provided by State Governments provide private players immense opportunities to venture into the sector.

Key Statistics

  • India’s 12 big ports, which account for about 58 per cent of the total cargo shipped through the country’s ports, handled 277 million tonnes (MT) of cargo in the April-September period of 2013, marking an increase of 2.3 per cent over the corresponding period last year

Recent Developments

  • Paradip Port Trust (PPT) is planning to give an impetus to its cargo handling facilities as the traffic has increased through its route. The authorities have decided to establish 'containerised cargo handling' infrastructure to support the rising exports. So far the Container Corporation of India and Warehousing Corporation of India have shown interest in the project, according to official statements. If things fall in place inland container depot would come up to handle seafood in refrigerated containers during the first phase of the revamp
  • Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Ltd (APSEZ) are finally buying Dhamra port, a venture of Larsen and Toubro Ltd and Tata Steel Ltd, in Odisha. APSEZ agreed to buy Dhamra Port Co. Ltd (DPCL) in early 2013 for about Rs.5, 000 crore (US$ 813.21 million), provided that the current operator gets environmental and coastal zone approvals. If the deal gets sealed, it will be the largest in India’s port’s sector, after Pipavav port in Gujarat was acquired by APM Terminals Management BV in 2005 from India’s SKIL Infrastructure Ltd. The new proposition will help APSEZ boost its handling capacity to over 200 MT by 2020
  • The Indian unit of Japanese auto maker Nissan Motor Co Ltd - Nissan Motor India - has inked an agreement with Ennore Port Ltd (EPL), according to which it will export at least 60, 000 cars every year. The agreement, inked in the presence of Union Shipping Minister G K Vasan, stands valid for the next 10 years. According to the agreement, Nissan will get discounts and concessions in the wharf age for up to 60,000 cars a year at the rate of 0.36 per cent for every unit. Its cars will be given free parking space for the first 15 days and will be handled as priority units at the port

Government Initiatives

  • The Government of India (GOI) has initiated National Maritime Development Programme (NMDP), an initiative to develop the maritime sector for which the administration has projected an outlay of US$ 11.8 billion. The Government has also allowed foreign direct investment (FDI) of up to 100 per cent under the automatic route for projects related to the construction and maintenance of ports and harbours and a 10-year tax holiday for enterprises engaged in ports.
  • Meanwhile, Belgium has assured the Indian President Pranab Mukherjee, that the country would consider his suggestion for help in developing a new port near Kolkata as the two countries exchanged views in new areas like port management. The two sides identified new areas of cooperation including collaboration in ports wherein Belgium's expertise in managing riverine ports would come instrumental.

    Kolkata Port is India's only major riverine port having two dock systems at Kolkata and Haldia. Both systems currently handle around 55 MT of cargo. Kolkata Port Trust intends to develop port facilities at Sagar Island as well i order to attract more ships and to expand business considering an expected increase in industrial activity that would eventually generate around 60 MT of additional traffic by 2021-22.

Road Ahead

Cargo traffic at major ports in India is expected to increase by 4 per cent in 2013-14, according to a latest report released by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE). Cargo volume is likely to swell up to 567 MT from 545 MT in the preceding financial year. This growth would substantially be supported by a healthy rise in freight volume of POL (4.1 per cent) and coal (21.9 per cent).

Other industry estimates reveal that the total cargo traffic in India stood at 911.5 million metric tonnes (MMT) during FY12 and is expected to touch 1, 758 MMT by FY17. Port traffic at major and non-major ports in India is poised to rise at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22 per cent and 5.5 per cent respectively over FY12-14. Also, By FY17, cargo capacity in India is expected to increase to 2301.6 MT from 1247.5 MT in FY12.

Exchange Rate: INR 1 = US$ 0.01626 as on October 28, 2013

References: Media Reports, Press Releases.