Transport, Communication and Trade in India – Water Transport, Inland Water Ways, Air Transport

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Water Transport

  • 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. 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, Jawaharlal Nehru Port (at Nhava Sheva on the opposite side of Mumbai harbour), Mormugao, 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.

Major Inland and Coastal Waterways of India

Major Inland and Coastal Waterways of India

Some important inland water ways are:

  • Ganga river between Allahabad and Haldia covering a distance of about 1620 km. Big steamers and crafts can ply unto Patna. This water way is declared as National water way No.1.

  • Brahmaputra river is navigable up to Dibrugarh a distance of 1384 km. Out of which only 891km lies in India, the rest being in Bangladesh.

  • The Kollam and Kotapuram stretch of west coast canal along with Champakara and Udyogmandal canals in Kerala which stretches for about 205km.

  • In south, the lower reaches of Godavari, Krishna, and Mahanadi serve as inland water ways. Buckingham canal between Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh is also an inland water way which is now hardly in use.

The following factors affect the inland water ways in India.

  • Diversion of water of rivers for irrigation.

  • Silting of riverbeds reduces the depth of river water.

  • Seasonal fluctuations in the water level of the rivers.

  • Presence of bridges, waterfalls and cataracts in the course of rivers.

  • An unequal competition with railways and roadways.

  • India’s inland water ways have not been developed as they cannot compete with the railways and roads.

Air Transport

  • Air transport is the fastest and highly convenient mode of transport, although it is more costly than other modes. One can cover a journey between Delhi and Bangalore in about two and a half hours by an aeroplane while this distance is covered in about 42 hours by a railway express train.

  • Air transport becomes very important in the regions where surface means of transport are difficult to develop. These regions may have dense forests, marshy land, hilly terrain, and high mountains.

Air Routes of India

Air Routes of India

  • India is favourably situated on a busy international air route, connecting North America, Europe, and South-west Asia on the one hand, and East and South-east Asia together with Australia on the other.

  • In the public sector, there are Air India Indian Airlines, Air India Charters Limited (Air India Express) and Alliance Air. In the private sector, there are 7 scheduled airlines (passenger), namely, Jet Airways, Sahara Airlines, Deccan Aviation, Spice Jet, Go Airways, Kingfisher Airlines, Paramount Airways, and Indigo. There is also one cargo private scheduled airline, i.e., Blue Dart Aviation. At present, there are 46 companies holding non-scheduled air transport operators permit.

  • Air India is the international air carrier. It handles the foreign traffic which includes both cargo and passenger services. It provides Regular and more frequent flights to the USA, Canada, and European countries.

Currently, there are 37 air crafts most of them Boeing 747 in the fleet of Air India. In 2004-05, Air India carried about 4.4 million passengers. There are eleven international airports which are located at Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Thiruvananthapuram, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Guwahati, Amritsar, Jaipur, and Lucknow handle the entire foreign air traffic.

  • Indian Air Lines handles the domestic air transport. There are regular flights among the state capitals and major cities of the country. The places of tourist interest are also served by this airline. Besides it, Indian Airlines operate 55 domestic and 18 international stations. It provides services to neighbouring countries such as Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Malaysia, Singapore, Male, and Middle East. Presently Indian Airlines has a fleet of 73 aircrafts.

  • Pawan Hans Helicopter Ltd., a public sector company, is engaged in providing helicopter services to ONGC for its offshore operations. It is also used by various State Governments.

The promotion of air transport in the North-eastern region is a necessity owing to several adverse physical factors like mountainous terrain, thick forest cover, and big rivers with frequent flood. Socially and economically too, the region needs to be drawn closer to the rest of India.

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