A well-coordinated transport system is vital for sustained economic growth of a country. The current transport system comprises several types of transport including, road, rail, coastal, air, transport.
Though Railways in India provide the principal mode of transportation for freight and passengers, India also has one of the largest road networks in the world, aggregating to about 33 lakh kilometers. Shipping by air certainly isn’t the cheapest alternative, and is only advisable for certain size/weighted products.
Sea transportation has some strong advantages compared to other modes of transportation. By taking advantage of economies of scale, shipping is a cost-effective option to land and air transportation, especially at longer distances.
India has 13 major ports and about 200 non-major ports. The Cargo traffic, which was 972.63 million metric tonnes (MMT) in 2013-14 is expected to reach 1,758 MMT by 2017. The Indian ports and shipping industry plays a vital role in sustaining growth in the country’s trade and commerce. India currently ranks 16th among maritime countries, with a coastline of about 7,517 km. Around 95 per cent of India’s trade by volume and 70 per cent by value takes place through maritime transport, according to the Ministry of Shipping.
The Indian ports sector received FDI worth US$ 1,635.40 million in the period April 2000–May 2014 showing the growing importance of this mode of transportation.
There are a number of maladies affectingthe ports sector such as old infrastructure, such as limited water depth, old and inefficient cargo handling systems, poor hinterland connections, rigid institutional framework, high tariffs, poor quality of services, lack of extension possibilities.