Thursday, November 1, 2012

Kolkata Port and its Docks (Kolkata and Haldia)


Ports of Kolkata are one of the oldest operating ports in India. This riverine port was constructed by English East India Company. After the fall of East India Company and takeover of Indian administration by British Government, these ports came under port commission in 1870. During Second World War, Kolkata became a critical port and suffered two bombing campaigns of Imperial Japanese forces.

From 1947 to 1975, Commissioner for Kolkata port was responsible for its operations. Afterwards, ‘Major Port Trusts Act - 1963’ extended to Kolkata Port and it came under ‘Board of Trustees of the Port of Calcutta’.

However from 1947 to 2000 many things occurred in this part of India. Because of partition, Kolkata Port lost a big chunk of its hinterland as eastern portion of Bengal broke away from India and joined Pakistan. West Bengal’s economic stagnation only aggravated its woes. However, 2000s economic recovery of West Bengal and infrastructure projects gave it necessary momentum to revitalize.

Kolkata still function as gateway for Eastern India and serves a vast hinterland which comprises West Bengal, Eastern Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, rest of Eastern India and two Himalayan countries - Bhutan and Nepal.

Port Structure

Kolkata port trust manages two dock systems,

1. Kolkata Dock System (KDS)
    Located on left bank of Hooghly River, this port is 203 km upstream from sea. KDS consists of Kidderpore Docks (18 berths, 6 moorings, 3 dry docks), Netaji Subhas Docks (10 berths, 2 moorings, 2 dry docks), Budge River moorings (6 petroleum wharves), Diamond Harbour and Sandheads.

2. Haldia Dock System (HDS)
    This system consists of 12 berths, 3 oil jetties, 3 barge jetties and Haldia Anchorage etc.
In addition to this, many other major and minor riverine jetties and ship breaking berths are present in this area.

Traffic Handled by major ports (2005-06 to 2011-12)

According to the reports from Ministry of Shipping, traffic handled by Kolkata port increased from 10.8mn tonnes in 2005-06 to 12.23mn tonnes in 2011-12. In the same period traffic handled by Haldia fell from 42.33mn tonnes to 31.01mn tonnes. In 2009-10 alone, Haldia saw a stunning fall of 8.41mn tonnes in its traffic.

Please see the details below – numbers are in million tonnes.

Other major port parameters

Average Turnaround time: 

This parameter showed significant improvement from 11.9days in 1990-91 to 6.21 days in 2010-11 for Kolkata. For Haldia also turnaround time decreased from 6.47days in 1990-91 to 4.45 in 2010-11.

According to the report from Kolkata port trust, turnaround time still maintains its improving trend. In 2012 April-September quarter, turnaround time in Kolkata was 4.62 days; in Haldia it was 3.73 days (for same quarter in 2011, numbers were 5.29 and 4.15 respectively).

In fact all major ports in India are showing progress in this area, on average turnaround time improved from 8.10 in 1990-91 to 5.29 in 2010-11. Unfortunately, compared to world’s biggest ports this number is still high. For Singapore Port – second biggest in the world – turnaround time is less than 12 hours.

Average Pre-Berth detention time:

This parameter turned worse from 0.9days in 1990-91 to 1.23 in 2010-11 for Kolkata; and from 1.66days in 1990-91 to 3.73 in 2010-11 for Haldia. At all India level also, this parameter showed a slight increment from 2.16days in 1990-91 to 2.32days in 2010-11.

However, in April-September quarter of 2011, these numbers were 0.74 and 2.93days for Kolkata and Haldia; for the same period in 2012 it was 0.63 and 1.95 days for Kolkata and Haldia respectively. Good improvement compared to previous years data.

Average Output per Ship berth day (in tonnes)

For Kolkata Docks this parameter recorded a manifold jump from 560 tonnes in 1990-91 to 2253 in 2010-11. However, for Haldia it was not so encouraging one – from 5659 tonne in 1990-91 to 6563 tonnes in 2010-11.

For Kolkata in 2010-11 April- September quarter it was 2582 tonnes and for same period in next year the number showed and improving trend and reached 2996 tonnes. For Haldia, the numbers were 6704 and 6431 tonnes respectively.

All India level, over a period of 21 years  ‘average output/ship berth/day increased from just 3372 tonnes (1990-91) to 10917 tonnes in 2011-12.


Eventhough we have a lengthy coastline, a number of ports and a huge hinterland to serve our parameters are nowhere close to world’s best ones. There is no wonder that, none of Indian ports appeared in world’s top 20 list. Ironically, a country whose size is less than one of our port cities – Haldia Planning area – stands second on the list!!!



1. Kolkata Port Trust
2. Haldia Dock Complex
3. Ministry of Shipping, GOI
4. Ministry of Finance, GOI
5. Wikipedia

Photo Courtesy: Wikipedia

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