A cargo vessel sailing along the very wide Hugli river at Diamond Harbour, West Bengal

India's extensive 7 500 km coastline is dotted with 13 major ports and some 200 minor and intermediate ports. The Government of India's Port Trust of India runs all the major ports. Minor ports are guided by state governments. India's 13 major ports handled 699 m tons (incl. 9.9 m TEU containers) of cargo in 2018-19 and slightly more (348 m tons) during the first half of 2019-20. Kandla (Gujarat) port's cargo throughput was a record 105.4 m tons during the same year. Minor ports handled a total of 583 m tons in 2018-19. The JNPT container terminal and NSICT are the largest container handling ports with an approx. 60 % share of a total of 9.14 m containers (TEUs) handled at Indian ports in 2017-18. The Shell Group/Total operates a 2.5 mtpa liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal and port at Hazira, Gujarat. New greenfield ports under construction include the Krishnapatnam port in southern Andhra Pradesh.

The gross Indian shipping tonnage amounted to 12.7 million GT (Gross Tons) while the number of vessels was 1 419 in Sep 2019. 456 of these vessels ply on overseas routes. India is the 16th largest shipping nation globally on the basis of merchant fleet size.

Kochi is a busy port city in the southern state of Kerala. The port handles both liquid and dry bulk and containerized cargo (29.1 million tons in total in fiscal 2017-18 and almost 556 000 TEUs). Major liquid bulk cargo items handled include crude oil, petroleum oil and lubricants, LNG and phosphoric acid. Dry bulk cargo items include coal, riversand and sulphur. 1 555 ships entered the port in 2017-18 incl. 641 container ships, 94 dry bulk ships, 375 tankers, 42 cruise ships and 265 passenger/cargo ships.

A view of the outer Visakhapatnam harbour and fishing harbour. Vizag Port handled 61 million tons of cargo in 2016-17. Iron ore, coking coal and oil products are some of the bulk items handled by this natural harbour. The underutilised container terminal is operated by Visakha Container Terminal Pvt. Ltd. The terminal handled 367 000 TEUs in 2016-17. The new multi-purpose deepwater port at Gangavaram began operating in 2008. (top left corner of image).

Inland Waterways

Although inland water transport has a rich legacy in India, road and rail transport play a dominant role in inland transport. India at present has three national waterways, the National Waterway No 1 (NW-1) ie Ganga-Bhagirathi-Hugli river system, the NW-2 ie Brahmaputra and the NW-3 ie the West Coast Canal. The total length of navigable rivers and canals is about 20 000 kms. Cargo transported on India's inland waterways amounted to 55 million tons in 2017-18.

National Waterways of India
NW 1Allahabad to Haldia, 1620 kms (U.P.,Bihar, Jharkhand and W.B.)Ganga-Bhagirathi-Hooghly river system. Large fluctuations in water levels.
NW 2Sadiya-Dubri, 891 kms (Assam)Trade with Bangladesh takes place by the use of this waterway.
NW 3Kollam-Kottapuram, 205 kms (Kerala)Includes the West Coast Canal, Champakara and Udyogmandal canals. NW3 is a tidal canal.

State waterways include Goa's 275 km network of navigable waterways, including the Mandovi and Zuari rivers. Iron ore is transported by barges (some 240 operate in Goa) from ore mines to the ports of Mormugao and Panaji.


Major / Intermediate / Minor Ports of India
PortCargo Handled
(Million Metric Tons) : 2017-18
(TEUs) 2017-18
Ship Calls
Visakhapatnam 63.5 389 0002 109
Kolkata / Haldia 57.9 830 000 (2018-19)3 127
Chennai 46.7 (2019-20) 1 620 000 (2018-19)1 857
Deendayal (Kandla) 122.5 (2019-20) 177 0002 124
Mumbai 62.9 42 000 6 088
JNPT/Nhava Sheva International Container Terminal
Gateway Terminals India
68.5 (2019-20) 5 133 000 (2018-19)2 380
New Mangalore 42.1 21,460* 1,144*
Mormugao 17.7 (2018-19) 32 000
Paradip 112.7 (2019-20) 2,000 1,636*
Kochi 29.1 256 000 (2017-18) 1 555 (2017-18)
V.O.Chidambaranar (Tuticorin) 36 (2019-20) 803 000 (2019-20) 1 533
Kamarajar Port (Ennore) 32 (2019-20) 3 000 801 (FY17)
Port Pipavav ca 200,000¹
9.1 (2018-19)
20.7 (2018-19)
Hazira 25.4 (2019-20)
568 000 (2018-19)
592 000 (2018-19)
Mundra 137.3 (2018-19) 671,000¹ 1,169 (Apr-Dec07)
Kakinada Anchorage Port
Kakinada Deep Water Port
Gangavaram 18 (2016-17)nana
Krishnapatnam 45 481 000 1290
*: Apr07 - Mar08
¹ 2007
² 2004

A view of the Gangavaram Port being developed just south of Vizag. The port was comissioned in 2008.

A view of the Vizag Port located in north-western Andhra Pradesh. The Indian Navy Eastern Naval Command (one of the three area commands along with Mumbai and Kochi along the western coast) is headquarted in Vizag.

A view of Chennai harbour. A record 137,000 cars were exported through Chennai port in 2007-08. Other ports facilitating auto exports include JNPT at Navi Mumbai. Mundra Port in Gujarat in building an auto terminal. The Chennai Container Terminal, operated by Dubai Ports, handled 1.12 million TEU equivalent containers during the same period. A new terminal targeted to handle upto 5 million TEU's is in the planning stage.


India has 23 shipyards, eight of which are in the public sector. India's share of the global shipbuilding sector is currently less than half a percent but is projected to grow upto 15 per cent by 2020 due to cost competitiveness and readily available skilled labour force in India. India's shipyards have a cargo carrying capacity of 2.8 million tons and are building (as at Feb 2008) 245 ships of various sizes valued at more than Rs 200 billion.

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