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The bulk of India’s overseas transport is met by maritime transport. The article provides information about the growth of maritime transport and the impact of liberalization on the industry.

Maritime Transport

Maritime transport is a vital means of transport for the prosperity of a country. It has an impact on the rate of development. It is the most optimal cost efficient means of transporting a large number of goods. It creates employment opportunity in other dependant industries like shipbuilding, ship breaking, ship repairing, maritime training etc. It plays a huge role in increasing trade, generating employment.

Maritime Transportation Services India
Maritime transportation services in India have made tremendous progress over the years. It is vital for India's coastal trade. It has over a period of time accumulated physical and financial assets, skilled human resource, extensive knowledge base and dependable infrastructure. It accounts for nearly 90 per cent of India's trade volume. The Indian peninsular is located in the Indian Ocean, with the Atlantic Ocean in the west and the Pacific Ocean in the east. The country has 5560 km long coastline. The other auxiliary services handled by the maritime sector are cargo handling, ship repairing, freight forwarding, lighthouse maintenance and training for personnel.

The maritime transport is controlled by the Ministry of shipping. The shipping industry is well ordered by the Merchant Shipping Act 1958 and the Director General of shipping monitors all work related to shipping. The highlights of India’s shipping policy are to promote shipping in India to make the country self reliant in carrying goods to and from other countries and to safeguard India's maritime interest. Indian commercial ships are one of the most important means of transport for the import of crude oil, petroleum products, coal and fertilizer, export of iron ore. It also acts as a second line of defense in case of war and emergency situation.

Post Liberalization
The scenario for the maritime transport changed after liberalization. It became very competitive be it for cargo or for mobilizing resource. Policy changes like moderation of the cabotage law and cargo reservation policy meant International ships decking at Indian ports did not require a license. To make the domestic industry competitive the government modified the Merchant Shipping Act and relaxed the process for raising funds to enable the maritime industry to acquire ships at cost effective prices. The government gave permission to both private and public shipping companies to repair their ships in any shipyard without having to take approval from them.

The volume of cargo handled and container traffic in the major ports has increased from 152.6 million tons and 7.9 million tons in 1990-91 to 519.1 million tons and 92.13 million tons in India coastal shipping and inland water transport are limited. Today India is a global supplier of seafarers and accounts for around 6 per cent of the world's seafarers.FDI up to 100% is allowed in port development projects (construction and maintenance) and private companies are offered other incentives like 100 per cent tax exemptions for port development for a period of 10 years.

  • It is forecasted that the cargo handling capacity of the Indian ports will increase to 1,855 million tons by 2012.
  • The share of ship building industry in India of the global ship building market is expected to be 15 per cent by 2020.
  • Companies like Shipping Corporation of India have made huge investment to purchase ships.

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