The Kolkata Port Trust (Bengali: কলকাতা বন্দর) is a riverine port in the city of Kolkata, India, located around 126 miles (203 km) from the sea. It is the oldest operating port in India, and was constructed by the British East India Company. The Port has two distinct dock systems - Kolkata Docks at Kolkata and a deep water dock at Haldia Dock Complex, Haldia. In the 19th century Kolkata Port was the premier port in British India. After independence its importance decreased because of factors including the Partition of Bengal (1905), reduction in size of the port hinterland and economic stagnation in eastern India.
Kolkata Port was set up by the British East India Company after the company received trading rights from the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb.An image of the old port of Kolkata. Following the shift of power from the company to the British crown, a port commission was set up in 1870. Though the port was conceived to be a commercial port and gateway of eastern India, the port played a very important role in the Second World War.
It was bombed twice by the Japanese forces. After the independence, the Commissioners for the Port of Kolkata was in responsibility of the port till January 1975 when Major Port Trusts Act, 1963, came into force. The Port is now run by a Board of Trustees having representatives from the Government, Trade Bodies, various Port Users, Labor Unions and some nominated members.
The Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT) manages two separate dock agglomerations - the Kolkata Dock System (KDS) and the Haldia Dock Complex (HDC).
Due to the constraints of the river (like silting, sandbars etc.) no seagoing vessel above 200 GRT is allowed to navigate without a qualified pilot of the Kolkata Port Trust. The total pilotage distance to KDS is 221 kilometres (137 mi), comprising 148 kilometres (92 mi) in river and 75 kilometres (47 mi) in sea, and for HDC is 121 kilometres (75 mi), comprising 46 kilometres (29 mi) in river and 75 kilometres (47 mi) in sea.
In the fiscal year 2011-12, Kolkata port handled 43.248 million metric tons (47.673×106 short tons) of cargo. This is significantly less than 53.143 million metric tons (58.580 million short tons) of cargo it handled in 2005-06. However, the number of vessels handled at Kolkata Port during 2011-2012 was the highest amongst all Indian Major Ports. KoPT handled 16% of the total number of vessels, which worked at Indian Major Ports in 2011-2012. During the fiscal year 2011-2012, 3183 vessels called at KoPT.