India is one of the main engines of world economy. The country is the second fastest growing major economy in the world, with a GDP growth rate of 9.4 per cent for the year 2006 – 2007. It has been predicted that within 10 years, its economy will overtake Japan’s and become the third major power.
As India prepares itself for becoming an economic superpower, it must take steps for overcoming infrastructure bottlenecks inherent in its system. Availability of physical infrastructure is central to sustainable economic growth. In particular, power availability is a key factor to ensure the economy stays ahead in the race for global supremacy; it is a fact that availability of adequate and modern forms of energy is generally correlated with human and economic development.
Need for energy
India is the world’s sixth largest energy consumer, consuming about 3.7 per cent of the world’s total energy per year. Coal is the dominant commercial fuel, meeting half of commercial primary energy demand and a third of total energy needs. Demand for coal is projected to grow to about 800 Mt in 2030. Only China’s demand for coal is expected to outstrip India’s. Coal currently provides around 70 per cent of Indian electricity demand and will continue to be a major source of electricity generation into the future.
Even if there is now an availability of other energy sources and efficient technologies such as hydro-power, renewable energy and nuclear power, it is predicted that coal will continue to dominate the power generation mix and coal imports will continue to grow.
Ports are the hubs through which coal is imported in India. The port sector has been identified by the authorities as the prime catalyst in the acceleration process of industrialisation, international trade and economic progress. Port development and economic development are mutually related. On one hand economic development necessitates port development as a part of infrastructure development and, on other hand, port development itself facilitates import-exports and attracts industries to its hinterland, which in turn create forward and backward linkage with the rest of the economy. The development of the port sector as associated with maritime trade is an axiom that no maritime nation can afford to ignore in today’s global world.
India has 12 major ports and 187 minor ports along its 7,517 km long coastline.