India is one of the world’s fastest and most reliable growing economies and is an essential part of the global supply chain with immense potential. The ports in India provide a necessary service that enables this rapid expanse and growth.

Geopolitical background about the ports in India

It’s a thriving hub for worldwide import and export opportunities. Being amongst the largest peninsulas across the globe, India relies on sea transport to carry out the majority of international trade.

It is surrounded by water on three sides that accounts for 7,516.6 km long coastline. The nine coastal states of India which include Maharashtra, Gujarat, West Bengal, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Odisha are encircled by the Arabian Sea in West, the Indian Ocean in South and Bay of Bengal in East.

India majorly has 12 ports and close to 200 minor ports that are broadly disseminated across the coastline. These are considered to some of the busiest ports in India.

With so many significant ports sustaining India’s trading business and economy, several global corporations acknowledging India as a potential headquarter for global trade operations.

Almost about 95% of India’s trade is conducted via sea, accounting for approximately 70% of the cumulative trade value.

To expedite this business with such far-reaching magnitude, India possesses some of the most prominent and most bustling ports. Here is a compiled list of busiest ports in India to further understand the impact of sea trade in India’s economy.

Jawaharlal Nehru Port is renowned for being the most bustling container port in India and the third busiest port in India, bearing an annual cargo volume of close to almost 64 million tons.

Did you know this port is also the only Indian port to be included amongst the top 30 list of ports, worldwide? It is positioned east of Mumbai on an island by the name Nhava Sheva and is named after India’s first Prime Minister. Hence this port is also popularly known as Nhava Sheva Port.

The port is extraordinarily well mechanized and manages freights by employing high-end technology. The primary objective of this port signified to overcome the challenges cornering the Mumbai port, and now it is accountable for almost 55% of India’s container traffic.

  • Paradip Port

Paradip Port is another busiest cargo port situated in India with an annual volume of about 75.7 million tons. This port is a unique, deep-water harbor to be positioned on the east coast of India, in the Jagatsinghpur district of Odisha.

The port has an artificial harbor that makes it fitting for varying climatic changes. Its abyssal bottom enables it to have a freight space of about 60,000 DWT.

Moreover, Paradip port had been recently remodeled and stretched to cater to petroleum products of up to almost 8 million tons.

  • Chennai Port

Chennai Port stands on the second position as the busiest ports in India list with annual traffic of 1.5 million tons. Established in 1881, this renowned port is established at the Coromandel Coast in the Bay of Bengal. 

Note: This port serves as the central port of Tamil Nadu

Chennai port had India’s leading container terminal; however, it was later denationalized (from governmental control to private control. It presents to the local economy and attracts tourists around the year for famous surrounding lighthouses.

  • Calcutta (Kolkata) Port 

This is the oldest running port in India, created during the British East India Company’s rule. Kolkata Port, also previously know as Calcutta port, is the fourth most hectic port in India. It has a yearly cargo volume of about 50 million tons.

This port is situated on banks of the Hugli river, and is the chief inlet to the east of India, commonly known as “Gateway to Eastern India.” The port is majorly used for trading of tea (such as the famous Darjeeling tea), steel, jute products, copper, leather products, among several others.

It’s a regular river port and can comfortably contain ships up to 500 feet in length. 

  • Bombay (Mumbai Port)

Mumbai Port is a deep-water port and handles 20% of India’s foreign trade. It is India’s largest port by size and traffic and has 61 million tons of annual cargo volume. It is located on a marvelous harbor, which is 10-12m deep, and large ships can quickly enter and leave.

It specializes in mineral oil from Gulf countries and dry cargo. It also exports textile, cotton, manganese, machinery, and tobacco, and imports raw cotton, crude oil, and machinery. Mumbai port is critical for India’s economy and trade operations. 

There are other busy ports in India, which include Visakhapatnam, Tuticorin, New Mangalore, among others. The government has rightly invested in the development of these ports and their additional infrastructure.

The Government of India is taking special initiatives to support the trade, given the widespread global influence of sea transport and container trade.

To ensure that Indian ports are on par with their global counterparts, the Govt. of India allows 100% FDI and allocates funds to projects like Sagarmala.

The ports are backed with suitable technology and equipment. India’s 12 major ports are the gateway to different regions of the country and serve an essential and unique purpose.

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