India has 12 major ports and around 200 non-major ports. In FY20, major ports in India handled 704.82 million tonnes (MT) of cargo traffic, implying a CAGR of 2.74 per cent during FY16-FY20. Cargo traffic at non-major ports reached 447.21 MT in FY20 (till December 2019).
Since ports handle almost 95 per cent of the trade volumes in India, the rising trade has contributed significantly to country’s cargo traffic. The major ports had a capacity of 1,514.09 MT per annum (MTPA) by FY19P. Given the positive outlook, proposed investment in major ports is expected to total US$ 18.6 billion by 2020, while those in non-major ports will be around US$ 28.5 billion. Turnaround time at major ports in India has decreased at a rapid pace from 82.32 hours in FY17 to 64.69 hours in FY20 (till September 2019).
India’s merchandise export decreased 4.78 per cent y-o-y to reach US$ 314.31 billion in FY20.
In November 2019, the first ever movement of container cargo on Brahmaputra (National Waterway -2) focused on improving the connectivity to North Eastern Region (NER).
As of November 2019, projects worth Rs 13,308.41 crore (US$ 1.90 billion) were awarded on upgradation of major ports. The Ministry of Shipping has sanctioned a sum of US$ 1.49 million to Gujarat Maritime Board for capacity building and safety training of workers involved in ship recycling activities under Sagarmala. The Government of India has finalized master plans for 142 capacity expansion projects worth Rs 91,434 crore (US$ 14.19 billion) under the Sagarmala programme. Approximately, 10,000 jobs were created through projects initiated under Sagarmala over the last three years. In August 2019, India became the first country in the world to issue Biometric Seafarer Identity Document (BSID), capturing the facial bio-metric data of seafarers.
The Government of India has 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. Ports received a cumulative FDI of US$ 1.64 billion between April 2000 and March 2020. A 10-year tax holiday is extended to enterprises engaged in the business of developing, maintaining, and operating ports, inland waterways, and inland ports. The Government has also initiated National Maritime Development Programme (NMDP), an initiative to develop the maritime sector with a planned outlay of US$ 11.8 billion. In Union Budget 2020-21, the Ministry of Shipping has been allocated Rs 1,800 crore (US$ 257.22 million). The Government had undertaken 55 rail projects worth Rs 45,883.2 crore (US$ 6.57 billion) and 15 road projects of Rs 2,899 crore (US$ 0.41 billion) for the enhancement of port connectivity at various major and minor ports in 2019.
Government plans to replace old Lighthouse Act, 1927, with Aids to Navigation Bill, 2020, and incorporate global best practices, technological developments, and India's International obligations in the field of Aids to Marine Navigation.
On July 16, 2020, the first trial container ship was flagged off from Kolkata to Agartala through Chattogram Port of Bangladesh. It will provide an alternate and shorter route to connect the Northeast region through Bangladesh and open doors of new opportunities for both the countries.
* - Merchandise trade