The Indian mainland together with its island groups has a long coastline of over 6100 km.

This long coastline is dotted with 12 major ports managed by the central government.

Then there are 186 minor ports operating under the jurisdiction of the state governments.

The 12 major ports handle 90% of international water borne trade of the country.

These major ports alone handled 384 million tonnes of sea imports and exports.

The major ports along the western or Arabian Sea coast are Kandla, Mumbai, Jawahar Lal Nehru Port (at Nhava Sheva on the opposite side of Mumbai harbour), Marmugao, New Mangalore and Kochi.

Thus all the states on the western coast have at least one major port.

The remaining five ports are Tuticorin, Ennore, Chennai, Visakhapatnam, Paradeep (Paradwip) and the Joint port of Kolkata – Haldia.

Thus all the coastal states on the Bay of Bengal have at least one port each.

The Jawahar Lal Nehru port of Navi Mumbai is the most modern port.


Inland Water Ways

The position of inland water ways in India is very poor.

The total length of navigable water ways is only 14,500 km which can be used by mechanised boats and steamers.

We are actually utilizing only about 2700 km long water ways.


At present, there are five National Waterways (N.W)

[1] The Ganga river between Allahabad and Haldia (1620 km)-N.W. No.1


(2) N.W. 2– Brahmaputra river is navigable upto Dibrugarh a distance of 1384 km.

Out of which only 891km. lies in India, the rest being in Bangladesh.


[3]  N.W. 3–The Kollam and Kotapuram stretch of west coast canal along with Champakara and udyogmandal canals in Kerala which stretches for about 205km.


[4] NW 4— Kakinada to Puducherry Canal System along with River Godavari and River Krishna (1,095 km), and


[5] NW 5— The Brahmani and Mahanadi delta along with the East Coast Canal (623 km)


The following factors affect the inland water ways in India.

[1] Diversion of water of rivers for irrigation.

[2] Silting of river beds reduces the depth of river water.

[3] Seasonal fluctuations in the water level of the rivers.

[4] Presence of bridges, waterfalls and cataracts in the course of rivers.

[5] An unequal competition with railways and road ways.