Indian maritime sector facilitates not only transportation of national and international cargo but also provides a variety of other services such as cargo handling services, shipbuilding and ship-repairing, freight forwarding, light house facilities and training of marine personnel, etc. As on 31 December 2006 the Indian fleet (ships of 150 GT and above) comprised 774 ships with 8.41 million GT and 13.92 million DWT.
The salient features of India’s shipping policy are the promotion of national shipping to increase self-reliance in the carriage of the country’s overseas trade and protection of stakeholders’ interest in EXIM trade. India’s national flag-ships provide an essential means of transport for crude oil and petroleum product imports. National shipping makes significant contribution to the foreign exchange earnings of the country.
As on 30st December 2010, India had a fleet strength of 1040 vessels with gross registered tonn age (G.R.T) of 10.16 million, compared with fleet strength of 974 vessels with 9.47 million GRT at the end of December 2009.
Aids to Navigation:
Since Independence, India has made rapid growth in Aids to Marine Navigation From 17 Lighthouses to 169 in 2006, one Lightship, six Loran-C Chain Stations, 48 Racons, 21 Deep Sea Lighted Buoys and 22 and 22 installations under differential Global Positioning System (DGPS).
To cater to the needs of light stations in the islands and for maintaining the buoys, the Directorate General of Lighthouses and Lightships is maintaining three launches, one mechanised boat and two large ocean going vessels, M.V. Sagardeep-II and M.V. Pradeep.
A major scheme titled Coastal Vessel Traffic Service in the Gulf of Kachchh has been sanctioned in January 2002 at an estimated cost of Rs.165 crore. The project is likely to be completed by 2007 and will provide efficient navigational sercvices in this area.
Public Sector Undertakings:
The Shipping Corporation of India Limited:
The Shipping Corporation of India Limited (SCI) was formed on the 2 October 1961. The present authorised capital of the company is Rs. 450 crore and paid up capital of the company is Rs. 2, 82.30 crore. The status of SCI has been changed from a private limited company to Public limited from 18 September 1992.
The SCI has been conferred ‘Mini Ratna’ status by the Government on 24 February 2000. At present, the Government is holding 80.12 per cent of the share capital and the balance is held by financial institutions (11.07 per cent), public (5.47 per cent) and others (NRIs, Corporate Bodies, etc. 3.34 per cent). The Government has also decided to divest 51 per cent stake of the company to a strategic partner.
The SCI’s present fleet stands at 80 vessels aggregating about 2.75 million GRT (4.79 million DWT) comprising of general cargo vessels, cellular container vessels, crude oil tankers (including combination carriers), product tankers, bulk carriers, LPG/Ammonia carriers, acid carriers, passenger vessels and offshore supply vessels.
Hindustan Shipyard Limited:
Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL), Visakhapatnam was set up in 1941 in the private sector and was taken over by the Government in 1952. In 1962, the shipyard became a central public sector enterprise.
The shipbuilding capacity of the yard is 3.5 pioneer class vessels of 21,500 DWT each. The maximum size of the vessel that could be built is 50,000 DWT. HSL is the first shipbuilding yard in the country which was awarded ISO: 9001 certification by Lloyds Register of Quality Assurance, London for international standards of quality assurance.
Hooghly Dock and Port Engineers Limited:
Hooghly Dock and Port Engineers Limited (HDPEL), Kolkata became a Central Public Sector undertaking in 1984. The Company has two working units in Howrah District of West Bengal, one at Salkia and another at Nazirgunge.
Important Inland Waterways of India:
India has about 14,500 km of navigable waterways which comprise of rivers, canals, backwards, crecks etc.
It is the most important inland waterway in India. It is navigable by mechanised boats upto Patna and by ordinary boats up to Hardwar. It has been declared as National’ Waterway No 1. The entire route has been divided into three parts for development purposes. These parts are Haldia- Farakka (560 km), Farakka-Patna (460 km) and Patna- Allahabad (660). The National Waterways Act 1982 has the provision that the regulation and development of this waterway is the responsibility of the Central government.
It is also navigable by steamers up to Dibrugarh for a distance of 1384 km out of which only 736 km lies in India and the rest is in Bangladesh. It carries Assam oil, tea, timber and jute which are brought to Kolkata by having them transferred to road and rail system on the border of Bangladesh. Rivers like Mahanadi, Krishna, and Kaveri are navigable only in their lower courses during rainy season only.
They are of less worth than rivers. The total kilometrage of navigation canals and back waters in India is about 2750 kms; more than 2/3rds being in Bengal and Tamil Nadu. In Bengal, the large number of depression full of water is easily inter-connected to provide a canal for navigation. Bengal has therefore largest navigation canals kilometrage in India.
The Buckingham canal (on the east coast in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu) and the Orissa coast canal both let in sea water to provide enough depth for boats. These two are the largest navigation canals in India. The Buckingham canal (412.8 km) in Tamil Nadu run parallel and close to the coast, joining up a succession of backwaters of the sea.
Factors Affecting Inland Waterways:
1. The rivers and canals should have regular flow of enough water.
2. The development of waterways are affected by presence of water fall, cataracts and sharp bends in the course of river.
3. Silting of river’s bed reduces the depth of water and creates problems for navigation.-
4. Diversion of water for irrigation in upper reaches reduces the quantity of water in lower reaches
5. There should be enough demand for waterways to make it economically viable mode of transportation.
India’s Major Ports:
India has about 7516.6 km of main coastline serviced by 13 major ports and about 200 other ports. The major ports are under the purview of the Central government, while other ports (popularly termed as minor/intermediate ports) come under the jurisdiction of the respective State Governments. Mumbai, Jawaharlal Nehru at Nhava Shewa, Kandla, Mormugao, New Mangalore and Cochin are the major Ports on West coast and Kolkata/Haldia, Paradip, Visakhapatnam, Chennai, Ennore and Tuticorin the major ports on east coast.
The total cargo handled at Indian ports (major and non major) increased to 850 million tonnes in 2009-10 from 744.7 million tonnes in 2008-09 reflecting sharp increases of 143% during 2009-10. At the beginning of the Tenth Plan, the capacity of major ports was about 3434 MT. It is proposed to be increased to 470 MT by the end of the Tenth Plan.
Since 2000-2001, the aggregate capacity in the major ports is in excess of the traffic handled. Consequently, capacity is no longer a constraint in major ports. As a result, there has been a substantial improvement in their efficiency s borne out by the reduction in waiting time for the ships.
Minor and Intermediate Ports:
The minor/intermediate ports are in the concurrent list of the subject. State Governments are responsible for the management and the development of these ports.