India has 12 major and 187 non-major ports. The Indian ports and shipping industry plays a vital role in sustaining growth in the country’s trade and commerce. It is the sixteenth largest maritime country in the world, with a coastline of about 7,517 km. It has allowed Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) of up to 100 per cent under the automatic route for port and harbour construction and maintenance projects. It has also facilitated a 10-year tax holiday to enterprises that develop, maintain and operate ports, inland waterways and inland ports. The first plant in India for construction of technologically well- developed ships was set up in 1941 in Vishakhapatnam by the Scindia Steam Navigation Company. 'Jal-Usha' was the first ship built here. It was nationalised in 1952 and was named the 'Hindustan Shipyard Limited’ (Vishakhapatnam).
• The Hindustan Shipyard Limited, Vishakhapatnam-Here, high capacity cargo ships are built.
• The Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Limited,
Kolkata-Here, passenger ships, dredgers, coasters etc are built. It is set up on the bank of the Hugli.
• The Mazagaon Dock, Mumbai-Here, naval ships like frigates are built.
• The Cochin Shipyard Limited, Kochi (Kerala)-It is the largest shipyard in the country that has been built with the assistance of Japan. Here, shipbuilding, repairing and marine engineering training are done.
The government plans to establish two new major ports, one at Sagar in West Bengal and the other at Dugarajapatnam in the Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh.
The government is considering a proposal to set up an Integrated National Waterways Transport Grid (INWTG), which covers primarily five national waterways. The INWTG plan involves the development of these national waterways with at least 2.5 metres of least available depth (LAD), upgrade/setting up of priority terminals, and establishment of road connectivity (wherever feasible) and rail and port connectivity. The Government is undertaking the following measures for the ports’ capacity expansion:
• Up to 100 per cent FDI would be allowed under the automatic route for port development projects.
• Income tax incentives would be allowed as per the Income Tax Act, 1961.
• Bidding documents such as RFQ, RFP and Concession Agreement have been standardised.
• The Shipping Ministry’s power to delegate finances has been enhanced to accord investment approval for PPP projects.
• Security clearance procedures have been streamlined.
• The major ports’ developmental projects are being closely monitored.
The Ministry of Shipping has formulated a Perspective Plan ‘The Maritime Agenda 2010–2020’ to develop the maritime sector. This Plan includes forecasts for traffic and capacity additions at the ports up to 2020. The estimated capacity of the ports would be 3,130 MMT by 2019–20. The Union Ministry of Shipping has chalked out a comprehensive plan to raise Rs 100,000 crore (US$ 15.6 billion) to develop ports, build ships and improve inland waterways in the country.