India has a coastline which is more than 7,517 km long, interspersed with more than 200 ports. Most cargo ships that sail between East Asia and America, Europe and Africa pass through Indian territorial waters.
There are 13 major and about 200 non-major ports in the country. 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 set to rise at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22 per cent and 5.5 per cent respectively over FY12-14.
The rising demand for port infrastructure, strong growth potential, favourable investment climate, and sops provided by state governments provide private players with an opportunity to enter the Indian ports sector to serve the spill-off demand from major ports. During FY13, 29 projects are scheduled to be executed adding capacity of 208 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) at the cost of US$ 8.8 billion. Non-major ports are also expected to benefit from strong growth in India's external trade.
The Government of India (GOI) has initiated National Maritime Development Programme (NMDP), an initiative to develop the maritime sector with an planned 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.