Why India lacks way behind Sri Lanka and Singapore in development of Trans-shipment ports? Discuss the geographical / political reasons along with highlighting the government efforts so far.

The Indian port sector plays a vital role in sustaining growth in the country’s trade and commerce. But Indian ports are missing out on one of the most promising areas in the international maritime business-cargo transshipment
Transshipment is the act of off-loading a container from one ship (generally at a hub port) and loading it onto another ship to be further carried to the final port of discharge. Currently, the country has only one transshipment facility as Vallarpadam Terminal at Cochin port. Since we don’t have well developed transshipment ports, we need to rely on such ports located in other countries for that purpose

  • Colombo is a hub for transshipments from India and accounts for India’s 10-11% cargo business. The country annually pays Rs. 1500 crore for transshipment to these ports. Use of foreign transshipment ports raises costs and competitiveness of India’s business.
  • Some of the geographical barriers for transshipment ports in India:
  • India’s ports are located either on east coast or at west coast. The most ports at west coast are “gateway ports”, they are able to send cargo directly to destinations and thus don’t need transshipment facilities that much.
  • India had no port near international sea routes to handle large vessels. 
  • Only a few ports in South India have enough water depth to match global cargo handling efficiencies and function as transshipment hubs.

Political barriers:

  • Successive governments in India have tried to develop transshipment ports but so far the progress is limited one of the reason was policy paralysis
  • Federal structure of the government
  • More investment in roadways and railways compared to shipping due to political reasons.


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