India’s 6,000 km long coastline has 12 major ports and 181 minor/ intermediate ports of which 139 are in operation. The country’s ports are gateways to India’s international trade by sea and handle over 90% of foreign trade.
Though the bulk of Indian trade is carried by sea routes, the existing port infrastructure is insufficient to handle trade flows effectively. The current capacity at major ports is overstretched.
Indian ports do not compare favourably with major international ports, they are found lacking on three important parameters- capacity, productivity and efficiency. In international terms, labour and equipment productivity levels are still very low due to the outdated equipment, poor training, uneconomic labour practices, and idle time at berth, etc.
To handle the increase in sea-borne traffic on account of increased foreign and coastal trade, major expansion is required in the country’s port infrastructure. The Indian government has thrown open the port sector for privatisation. It is expected that privatisation would improve the efficiency, productivity and quality of services. Along with inculcating competitiveness in port services, private participation is expected to bring in latest technology and improved management techniques.