Port Infrastructure and Shipping Industry – Sagarmala Project, SDC, CEZ, etc.

Shipping sector in india


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Sagarmala

Mains level: Paper 3- India's shipping industry and challenges

The article deals with the problems faced by India’s shipping sector and suggests the measures to improve the shipping sector.

Importance of shipping for economic growth

  • The major economies of the world have always realized the potential of shipping as a contributor to economic growth.
  • For instance, control of the seas is a key component of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
  • However, geographically, China is not as blessed as India, yet, seven of the top 10 container ports in the world are in China, according to the World Shipping Council.
  • What aided China’s growth are strong merchant marine and infrastructure to carry and handle merchandise all over the world.

Lack of carrying capacity

  • All the shipping infrastructure in peninsular India only helps foreign shipping liners.
  • India has concentrated only on short-term solutions.
  • Foreign ship owners carry our inbound and outbound cargo. This is the case in container shipping too.
  • As a country, we have still not optimized our carrying capacity. 
  • Much of foreign currency is drained as transshipment and handling costs every day.
  • Due to this, members of our maritime business community have also preferred to be agents for foreign ship owners or container liners rather than becoming ship owners or container liners themselves.
  • As a result, there is a wide gap between carrying capacity and multi-folded cargo growth in the country.

Way forward

1) Regional cargo-specific ports

  • Instead of creating regional cargo-specific ports in peninsular India, we allowed similar infrastructural developments in multiple cargo-handling ports.
  • As a result, Indian ports compete for the same cargo.
  • We need to make our major ports cargo-specific, develop infrastructure on a par with global standards, and connect them with the hinterlands as well as international sea routes, they will automatically become transshipment hubs.
  • We need to only concentrate on developing the contributing ports to serve the regional transshipment hubs for which improving small-ship coastal operations is mandatory.

2) Sagarmala

  • Sagarmala aims are port-led industrialization, development of world-class logistics institutions, and coastal community development.
  • Sagarmala will help in increasing domestic carrying capacity.
  • Shipbuilding, repair, and ownership are not preferred businesses in India and the small ship-owning community in India also prefer foreign registry instead of domestic registration.
  • If this has to change, there needs to be a change in the mindset of the authorities and the maritime business community.
  • ‘Make in India’ will result in multi-folded cargo growth in the country, we need ships to cater to domestic and international trade.
  • Short sea and river voyages should be encouraged.
  • Shipbuilding and owning should be encouraged by the Ministry.
  • The National Shipping Board is an independent advisory body for the Ministry of Shipping, where the Directorate General of Shipping (DGS) is a member.
  • The NSB should be able to question the functioning of the DGS, which is responsible for promoting carrying capacity in the country.
  • Coastal communities should be made ship owners.
  • This will initiate the carriage of cargo by shallow drafted small ships through coast and inland waterways.
  • Sagarmala should concentrate on consolidating the strength of the coastal youth and make them contribute to the nation’s economy with pride.

Consider the question “How shipping contributes to the economic prosperity of a country? Suggest the steps need to be taken to develop its shipping sector.”


Shipping plays an important role in the economic development of a country. India needs to focus on developing it to achieve the economic prosperity.

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