What are the kinds of Water Transport found in India?

1. Inland Water Transport:

It has played a very important role in Indian Transport System since ancient times. Its length is 14544 Kms. Ganges, Brahmputra, Godavari, Krishna Rivers are navigable. Transportation of goods in an organized form is confined to West Bengal, Assam and in some parts of North Eastern Region and Goa.

In 1945, Central Irrigation and Power Commission were set up to develop inland water transport. Later on Central Inland Water Transport Corporation was set up in 1967 and finally Inland Waterway Authority of India was set up in 1986 which is a step forward and should help in accelerating development. We have 5200 kms navigable but only 1700 kms are without.

2. Coastal Transport:

India has a long coastline of 7516 Kms. with 11 major and 139 minor working ports and a vast hinter-land. In spite of its importance (being cheapest and energy efficient mode of transport) there has been a sharp decline in coastal shipping operations.


Number of ships declined from 97 in 1961 to 56 in 1980 and GRT (Gross Registered Tonnage) reduced from 3.1 lakh to 2.5 lakh over the same period. It went up to 6.3 lakh in 1995-96.

We have large overseas trade and 5560 kms coastline. We have also navigational aids such as lighthouses and lightships indicating submerged rocks and other dangers to the shipping. In 1950-51 we had 5 major ports at Mumbai, Chennai, Cochin, Kolkata and Vishakhapatnam.

After independence seven major ports at Kandla in Gujarat, Haldia near Kolkata, Nhava Sheva in Mumbai, Paradip in Orissa, Tulicam Mangaldi in Karnataka, and Marmugas in Goa were built. Major ports are being modernised, expanded and re-equipped. We have at present 450 vessels containing of tankers, liners and cargo carriers.

3. Oceanic Transport:

India has developed merchant fleet from scratch. In 1951 there were 24 Indian ships of 0.17 million GRT engaged in overseas trade. The fleet strength at the end of December 1994 was 438 vessels of 6.3 million GRT. Overseas trade was 122.3 million tonnes during 1993-94, which formed 34 per cent of the total sea borne cargo.


The Government of India is taking a lot of interest in the development of shipping sector by establishing a ship building industry in public sector, granting subsidy on the acquisition of ships from domestic shipyards to offset highest cost, supporting the public sector Shipping Corporation of India to expand its fleet and building up adequate facilities for the training of officers and men for the merchant fleet.

Eighth Plan aimed to achieve the objective of acquisition of a modern diversified fleet. It may help in achieving the objective of export promotion and improved balance of payments.