Kolkata, situated along the Hugli River about 148 km away from the sea shore is one of the leading ports of the country. Its importance has slightly declined in recent years due to the development of Vishakhapatnam and Paradwip ports.
The port has a large hinterland which extends from Assam, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and parts of Orissa and Chhattisgarh. The area is densely populated and is rich in agricultural commodities and mineral resources. The port is well connected with railways and roads.
Kolkata is a truncated port. It has two dock systems, viz., the Kidderpore Dock and Netaji Subhas Dock. The Kidderpore Dock has 6 coal berths. Petroleum wharves and 6 jetties are located at Budge Budge, about 22.5 km from Kolkata. Similarly two river-side jetties are available at Garden Reach for ocean going vessels. Recently (in 1978) one ancillary port has been built at Haldia, 90 km downstream from Kolkata, for handling the bulk cargo and to relieve pressure on the old port.
The principal imports of the port include petroleum, fertilizers, chemicals, edible oil, railway equipment and machinery. Its main exports are local, tea, sugar, gunnies, bone and bone meal, leather goods, bunker oil, lac, mica and scrap etc. During 1996-97 it handled 23.12 million tons (10.17% of India) of cargo traffic which is expected to rise to 31.73 million tons by 2002 AD. The port is facing the severe problem of silting which prevents the big ships to call on the port.
(2) Intermediate and Minor Ports
There are 184 intermediate and minor ports in the country. The responsibility for the development and management of these ports lies with the respective state government. Of these mention may be made of Kalingapatnam, Bhimunipatnam, Kakinada, Machilipatnam, Ennore, Cuddalore ,Nagappattinam, Tuticorin (along the east coast); Tellicherry, Calicut, Alappuzha, Kollam, Kozhikode, Karwar, Murud, Daman, Veroval and Porbandaretc. (Along the west coast). A satellite port at Ennore is being developed 20 km from Chennai to ease the burden on the old port. The Central Government has drawn a number of schemes to develop port facilities in Andaman, Nicobar and Lakshadweep islands.