New Delhi: The government has envisaged an investment of more than Rs 22,000 crore for setting up nine new major ports in the country over the next five years.

The Ministry of Shipping has asked nine coastal states -- West Bengal, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra and Gujarat -- to select sites for setting up a major port each. It is awaiting a response from all nine states.

"We have written to all the nine (maritime) states and have asked them to select site for the major port," a Shipping Ministry official said, adding that construction of each port would cost about Rs 2,500 crore.

These ports would cater to the maritime trade of the country and are likely to be built on the pattern of the Port of Singapore.

At present, there are 12 major and 176 minor ports in the country. The 12 existing major ports are Mumbai, the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust, Kolkata (with Haldia), Chennai, Visakhapatanam, Kochi, Paradip, New Mangalore, Marmagao, Ennore, Tuticorin and Kandla.

The Andhra Pradesh government is believed to have shortlisted two sites for setting up major ports in the state.

Any port with two or more berths with facilities and equipment capable of handling 1, 00,000 tonnes per month of cargo from ocean-going ships is categorised as a major port.

The Shipping Ministry plans to create port capacity of around 3,200 million tonnes (MT) to handle the expected traffic of about 2,500 MT by 2020.

It would also draft port policy measures during the 10-year span of the Maritime Agenda, which includes corporatisation or providing greater autonomy to the major ports in the country.

About 90 per cent by volume and 70 per cent by value of the country's international trade is carried through maritime transport.