There are 11 major and 148 minor and intermediary ports studded along the 5,700 km coastline of India.
(1) Major Ports
Major ports are the direct responsibility of the Central Government. Kandla, Mumbai, Jawaharlal Nehru Port (Nhava Sheva), Marmagao, New Mangalore and Kochi along the west coast and Tuticorin, Chennai, Ennore, Vishakhapatnam, Paradwip and Kolkata-Haldia along the east coast are the major ports of India.
These ports together handled 384 million tons of cargo in 2004-05 (272 million tons in 1999-2000). Vishakhaptnam, port alone handled 15.18 per cent of the total cargo, followed by Mumbai and Kandla (14.84 per cent each), Chennai (13.99 per cent) and Kolkata (10.17 per cent). Table 25.XI shows the capacity, existing (1996-97) and future (2002 AD) volume of traffic in these major ports.
Kandla Located at the head of the Gulf of Kachchh and about 48 km away from Bhuj, Kandla was developed after Independence to take up the place of Karachi (which went to Pakistan). Kandla is a natural sheltered harbour in the Kandla creek with average depth of 10 m. It is a modern port with a cargo jetty, 6 deep water cargo berths, 3 wharves at bunder basin, 3 single storied transit sheds, 4 double-storied warehouses, 2 vegetable oil tanks with capacity of 450 tons, 3 sheds for storage of 10,000 tons of fertilizers and dangerous cargo shed.
The port is well linked with broad gauge rail- line and a national highway. It has a vast hinterland of 2,56,000 sq. km. which includes Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Gujarat and western parts of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. The area is rich in mineral resources (gypsum, limestone, sand, lignite, and bauxite), wheat, cattle wealth and fisheries.
Kandla is principally an import port. Its main imports are petroleum, fertilizers, phosphates, sculpture etc. Its main exports are salt, cotton, bones, naphtha, sugar, tea, food grains etc. During 1996-97 the port handled total cargo traffic of 33.73 million tons (cf. 2.6 million tons in 1966-67) which is expected to reach 97.8 million tons by 2001-02. The port is being modernised to handle this huge traffic. A free trade zone has been set up near the port to promote trade and business activities.