India comprises a significant size maritime sector with 12 Major and 205 Non-Major Ports situated along its 7,500 Km long coastline and a vast network of navigable waterways. Of the 12 major ports, six ports each are located on the western and eastern coasts respectively.
The maritime sector in India has a crucial role to play in its overall trade and growth. 95% of India’s trade volume and 65% of India’s trade value is through maritime transport.
JNPT (#33) and Mundra (#37) are two ports having the distinction of being listed amongst the top 40 global container ports. In the last 5 years, India has boosted its capacity across all major ports by over 65%. Over 54% of the total cargo being handled at Indian Ports is done at 12 Major Ports of India.
India has a long and extensive 14,500 kms of navigable inland waterway providing an excellent opportunity to tap an environmentally friendly water based modal transport, which can complement rail and road-based cargo movement. About 55 million tonnes of cargo is being moved annually by Inland Water Transport (IWT). IWT operations are currently operational on select stretches in the Ganga-Bhagirathi-Hooghly rivers, the Brahmaputra, the Barak river, the rivers in Goa, the backwaters in Kerala, inland waters in Mumbai and the deltaic regions of the Godavari - Krishna rivers. Besides these organized operations by mechanized vessels, country boats of various capacities also operate in various rivers and canals. and substantial quantum of cargo and passengers are transported in this unorganized sector as well.
The IWT not only form a competitive alternative mode of transportation with lower operating cost (30% lower than the railways and 60% lower than road) but also an environmentally friendly and sustainable mode in freight logistics and passenger transport.
Out of the 111 National Waterways (NWs) declared under the National Waterways Act, 2016, 16 NWs are operational for shipping and navigation and cargo/passenger vessels are moving on them.
At present, approximately 74 million tons per annum (MTPA) cargo is transported annually through 16 functional NWs
The details of operational NWs and cargo transported through them are as follows:
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