[PDF Notes] Get complete information on Waterways (India)

Since time immemorial India has been well known for its seafaring activities. Waterways are the cheapest form of transport suitable for carrying heavy and bulky goods.

It is a fuel efficient and environment friendly means of transport. Water transport in India is mainly confined to navigable rivers, canals and backwaters. Most of the rivers in Peninsular India are seasonal so the Ganga and Brahmaputra are the only two rivers which are navigable.

The government has declared the following waterways as National Waterways.

1. National W. No. 1: The Ganga river between Allahabad and Haldia (1620 kms)

2. National W. No. 2: The Brahmaputra river between Sadiya and Dhubri (891 kms)

3. National W. No. 3: The West Coast Canal in Kerala (205 kms)

The other inland waterways include the Godavari, Krishna, Sundarbans, Damodar Valley corporation canal etc.

Indian’s International trade with foreign countries is carried on from the ports located along the coast.

Major seaports

India has a long coastline of 7,516.6 kms and has 12 major ports and nearly 200 minor ports. The major ports are:

Seaports on the west coast

1. Mumbai: It is located on the west coast of India. It is the biggest port with a spacious, natural and well sheltered harbour. It handles about 1/5 of India’s foreign trade mainly oil from the Gulf countries and other products from the Western countries and East African countries. It has a vast hinterland rich in agricultural and industrial resources. A dense network of roads and railways connects Mumbai to other parts of the country. The main items of export are cotton textiles, leather, tobacco, chemical goods, machinery etc. Imports include crude oil, raw cotton, drugs instruments etc.

2. Jawahar Lai Nehru Port: It was earlier known as the Nhava Sheva Port and opened on May 1989 with the main purpose of releasing pressure on the Mumbai port. It is equipped with the most modern facilities and at present handles about 45 lakh metric tonnes of cargo.

3. Kandla in the Gulf of Kachchh was constructed in 1951 after the loss of Karachi after Independence. It handles the trade of oil, fertilizers, food grains, salt, cotton, cement, sugar etc. It has a very large hinterland and is well connected to all parts of the country.

4. Marmagao port in Goa is the main exporter of iron ore (50%). The other items of export are manganese, coconut, cotton and other nuts.

5. New Mangalore. It is an important port located at the southern tip of the Karnataka coast. It was upgraded to accommodate bigger ships later on by constructing a harbour. Tea, coffee, rice, cashewnuts, fish, rubber etc. are exported through this port. It also exports iron ore from the Kudremukh mines and imports crude oil, fertilizers, edible oils etc.

6. Kochi is a natural harbour located on the west coast of India in the state of Kerala. It has the added advantage of a sheltered backwater bay and has a ship building centre here. It exports tea, coffee and spices and imports oil and chemical fertilisers from here.

Seaports on the east coast of India

7. Kolkata situated on the east coast of India, is called the ‘Gateway to Eastern India’ as it handles goods coming from South East Asia, Australia and New Zealand. It mainly exports jute products, tea, coal, steel, iron-ore, copper, leather etc. and imports machinery crude oil, paper, fertilizers etc.

This port is now suffering from problems due to silting as it is located on the banks of the R. Hugh. Things have eased but slightly due to the construction of the Farakha barrage. Kolkata has a vast hinterland comprising mainly of the north and north-eastern states.

8. Haldia has recently developed to release congestion at the Kolkata port. It mainly accommodates larger vessels which cannot go up to Kolkata. It is important for its petro-chemical plant, oil refinery and a fertilizer factory. The main items exported from here are mineral oil and petroleum products. The main problem it faces now is that of silting by the river nearby.

9. Paradip is located on the Orissa coast and mainly exports iron ore and coal in to Japan.

10. Vishakhapatnam is located in the state Andhra Pradesh and is the deepest land-locked port. The main items of export are Iron-ore from Bailadila mines, manganese ore, wood and spices. It imports mineral oil, coal, luxury items etc. It also has a large ship building industry.

11. Chennai is located on the East Coast of India and has an artificial harbour. The major items it exports are rice, textiles, leather and leather goods, coffee, fish, coconut, copra etc. Its imports consist of coal, crude oil, paper, cotton etc. It suffers a major disadvantage due to the cyclones in October and is not suited to larger ships as it does not have a deep harbour.

12. Tuticorin has been recently developed on the coast of Tamil Nadu to carry on trade with Sri Lanka. Its main trade items include coal, salt, food grains, edible oils, sugar and petroleum products.

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