The number of registered vehicles increased from 300,000 in FY 1950 to 5.2 million in FY 1980 and 23.4 million in FY 1991. India now has more than 375,000 buses and 800,000 trucks. About 40 percent of bus transport is in the public sector. Major urban bus lines are found in cities such as Bombay, Calcutta, New Delhi, Madras, and other major urban agglomerates. Bombay, India's largest city, for example, had some 3,000 buses running on 339 routes and carrying 1.6 billion passengers per year in FY 1992. The National Capital Territory of Delhi, with more than 3,800 buses and 870 routes, carried nearly 1.4 billion passengers in that year, and the Madras bus system, with some 2,300 vehicles and 428 routes, carried around 1.3 billion passengers. Because it has a subway system in place, Calcutta's bus service is considerably smaller. Calcutta had 1,200 buses and 202 routes and carried 308 million passengers per year in FY 1992. There are also unregulated bus services in some cities as well as extensive suburban and interurban and rural bus services.
Truck transportation is largely in private hands. Two-wheel and three-wheel vehicles also play a major role in hauling passengers and freight. Emissions control is very low by international standards, and fumes from motor vehicles contribute mightily to India's air pollution. New Delhi ranks among the ten most polluted cities in the world, according to the World Health Organization. Automotive traffic causes much of the pollution.
Ports, Maritime Transportation, and Inland Waterways
India has eleven major seaports: Kandla, Bombay, Nhava Sheva, Marmagao, New Mangalore, and Kochi (formerly known as Cochin) on the west coast, and Calcutta-Haldia, Paradip, Vishakhapatnam, Madras, and Tuticorin on the east coast. The port at Nhava Sheva, located across the harbor from Bombay Port, was established in 1982 under the administration of the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust as a separate port rather than an adjunct to Bombay. The eleven ports are the responsibility of the Ministry of State for Surface Transport but are managed by semi-independent port trusts overseen by boards appointed by the ministry from government departments, including the navy, port labor and industry, and ship owners and shipping companies.
In order of gross weight tonnage conveyed annually, Bombay, Vishakhapatnam, Madras, and Marmagao are the most important ports. In addition, there are some 139 minor working ports along the two coasts and on offshore islands administered by local, state, or union territory maritime administrations. Total traffic at the eleven major ports increased from 107 million tons in FY 1984 to 179 million tons in FY 1993. In FY 1993, some US$250 million in profits were earned, an achievement that attracted some US$4.5 billion in foreign investments in the ports in FY 1992-FY 1993.
In 1995 there were three government-owned shipping corporations, the most important of which was the Shipping Corporation of India. There were also between fifty and sixty private companies operating a total of 443 vessels amounting to 6.3 million gross registered tons, more than 300 of which were 1,000 gross registered tons or more. Indian tonnage represented 1.7 percent of the world total. Overall, the share of Indian vessels in total Indian trade is around 35 percent. Approximately 40 to 50 percent of capacity is underused. As a result of the global slump of the late 1980s, shipping companies experienced financial difficulties; the leading private shipping company, Scindia Steam Navigation Company, collapsed in 1987. The collapse left most Indian shipping under public ownership. The government's director general of shipping provides oversight for all aspects of shipping.
India has four major and three medium-sized shipyards, all government run. The Cochin Shipyards in Kochi, Hindustan Shipyard in Vishakhapatnam, and Hooghly Dock and Port Engineers in Calcutta are the most important shipbuilding enterprises in India. Thirty-five smaller shipyards are in the private sector. Drydocks at Kochi and Vishakhapatnam accommodate the nation's major ship repair needs.
In addition to its coastal and ocean trade routes, India has more than 16,000 kilometers of inland waterways. Of that number, more than 3,600 kilometers are navigable by large vessels, although in practice only about 2,000 kilometers are used. Inland waters are regulated by the Inland Waterways Authority of India, which was established in 1986 to develop, maintain, and regulate the nation's waterways and to advise the central and state governments on inland waterway development.
Data as of September 1995