Seaports in India are responsible for a varied range of economic activity. They account for about 95% by volume and 70 percent by value of the country’s international trade. The ports play a vital role in the overall economic development of the country.
Indian Ports are broadly classified as Major Ports and Non-Major Ports. The Major Ports are under the Union List while the Non Major Ports are under the Concurrent List of the Constitution of India. Hence,Major Ports are under the administrative control of Government of India while the Non-major ports are governed by the respective Maritime State Governments.
Major Ports are defined in Section 3(8) of the Indian Ports Act 1908 to mean any port which the Central Government may by notification in the Official Gazette declare, or may under any law for the time being in force have declared, to be a major port.
India has 12 major ports, which handle about 58% of sea-borne traffic.These are Kolkata (including Dock Complex at Haldia), , Visakhapatnam, Chennai, V.O. Chidambaranar (Tuticorin), Cochin, New Mangalore, Mormugao, Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), Mumbai, Kandla and Ennore. Of these, Ennore Port Ltd is a company and the remaining 11 are Port Trusts, governed by the provisions of the Major Port trusts Act, 1963.
Under the Indian Ports Act, 1908, the Government has declared the Port Blair Port with its territorial jurisdiction over all ports of Andaman & Nicobar Islands, - as a major port w.e.f. 1 June, 2010. All major provisions of the Major Port Trusts Act, 1963 has become applicable to the major port of Port Blair from 1 June, 2010. Though Government has intended it to be the next major port, no further action has been taken on the same.
India has around 200 Non Major ports, which handle about 42% of sea-borne traffic.
To allow the competitive market forces to play a greater role in determination of tariff at Major Port Trusts, the Government has issued two policy guidelines viz. Guidelines for Determination of Tariff for Projects at Major Ports, 2013 and Guidelines for Determination of Tariff for Major Port Trusts, 2015. These guidelines impart flexibility to the PPP operators in the Major Ports and Major Ports owned terminals in determining their tariff, subject to a ceiling rate.
Since its announcement in the Union Budget 2015-16, Government is encouraging ports in public sector to be corporatized, and become companies under the Companies Act 2013.
The Ministry of Shipping has prepared a draft bill ‘The Central Port Authorities Act’ 2016’ to replace the ‘Major Port Trust Act, 1963’. This step is being taken keeping in view the need to give more autonomy and flexibility to the Major Ports and to bring in a professional approach in their governance.