Ports in India play a vital role in the economic development of the country. They facilitate international trade and commerce by providing an interface between the ocean transport and land-based transport. Maritime transport caters to about 95 per cent by volume and 70 per cent by value of the country's international trade.
With a coastline of more than 7,517 km in length, the Indian port sector encompasses 13 major (12 government and 1 corporate) and about 200 non-major ports. 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.
The capacity of ports in India by the end of the 12th Five Year Plan is targeted to increase to 2,493.10 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) as compared to 1,245.30 MTPA at the end of the 11th Five Year Plan.
India’s major ports, which look after approximately 61 per cent of the country’s total cargo traffic, handled 413.01 million tonnes (MT) of cargo during April–December 2013 as compared to 405.28 MT over the corresponding period in 2012, registering a growth of 1.91 per cent.
Container traffic at the Visakhapatnam Port Trust (VPT) has registered the maximum growth of 11 per cent among 12 major ports during the period April–December 2013 as compared to the corresponding period in 2012. The container terminal handled around 3.7 MT of cargo during the period.
The Indian ports sector received foreign direct investment (FDI) worth US$ 1,635.08 million between April 2000 and October 2013, according to the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
Some of the latest developments in the Indian ports sector are as follows:
- Adani Ports & SEZ Ltd (APSEZ) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Belgian Port of Zeebrugge to get access to European markets. "The MoU over a period of time will help in an enhanced movement of traffic to and from APSEZ into Europe and beyond," stated Adani Ports. Adani Ports will explore joint business opportunities between the two ports along with other forms of trade, shipping, and railway infrastructure across India and Europe.
- Ennore Port Ltd (EPL), Chennai and Ford India Pvt Ltd have signed an agreement for export of Ford cars for a period of 10 years. The agreement provides for various volume-based discounts on wharfage by EPL ranging from 5–30 per cent to encourage more exports through EPL. Between September 2010 and December 2013, about 449,720 automobile units have been exported from Ennore Port, including those of manufacturers such as Nissan, Ford and Ashok Leyland from Chennai, Toyota from Bangalore and Honda from Delhi.
- L&T Shipbuilding, a subsidiary of Larsen & Toubro, has won orders worth about Rs 950 crore (US$ 152.35 million) for six specialised commercial vessels. The orders from Halul Offshore Services Company, Qatar, are for design, construction and commissioning of four platform supply vessels (PSVs) and two anchor handling towing, supply and standby vessels (AHTSSVs). The PSVs are to be delivered in the first quarter of 2015 and AHTSSVs in the last quarter of 2015.
- India has awarded 20 projects worth Rs 6,000 crore (US$ 962.22 million) creating 100 million metric tonnes (MMT) of port capacity in the first nine months of 2013–14, said Mr Vishwapati Trivedi, Secretary, Ministry of Shipping, Government of India. Another 150 MMT of capacity will be created in the next three months of the current financial year, with Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust's (JNPT) upcoming fourth container terminal contributing 64 MMT.