Tuticorin is one of the Port City of South India, situated 600 kms south west of Chennai and 135 kms from Madurai in the State of Tamilnadu. Tuticorin rose to eminence due to a well-guarded and natural harbour in the 15th Century. The Portuguese were the first to arrive in 1532. The peaceful and lucrative trade enjoyed by the Portuguese evoked the jealousy of the Dutch. After abortive attempts, the Dutch finally captured Tuticorin in 1649 and made it the Headquarters of the “Madura Coast”. Hostilities between the Dutch and the English forces during the 18th century took a heavy toll on this harbour town. The Dutch presence was subsequently subdued there after and in 1825, the English domination was established.
In the early years of the 19th century, the East India Company made rapid progress in developing the harbour. The cotton-rich hinterland was quickly linked by newly laid roads to facilitate exports of cotton through Tuticorin to England when the supply of cotton stopped there, due to the American Civil War. Railway linkage was given in 1878 with Maniyachi. After the visit of the Duke of Birmingham to Tuticorin in 1877, the harbour development activities flourished with the strengthening of the pier, reclamation of land to provide approaches to a new jetty and linking of the jetty with the railway. In 1888, the first cotton mill was established by A & F Harvey Company of England.
Tuticorin Customs: A Century-Old Saga: Tuticorin Customs has a hoary past dating back to the year 1898. The Custom House was built in 1901 on the Beach Road, Opposite to the present Old Port. At that time, the economic activity of this port was confined only to cater the Indo-Sri Lankan trade, carried on through country boats, also known as ‘thonies’
The Custom House earlier headed by a Superintendent, was upgraded as an Assistant collector’s Unit in 1979. Further the Custom House was headed by Deputy Collector since 1992. It was in 1993 that the present Custom House was constructed in the New Harbour Estate and was headed by an Additional Collector, who reported to the Collector of Customs at Tiruchirapalli. Due to the rapid development of imports and exports at this port, a full-fledged Customs Commissionerate, headed by a Commissioner of Customs was formed on 1st November, 2002.
On July 11, 1974, the newly constructed Tuticorin Port was declared as 10th major port. On 1st April 1979, the Tuticorin minor port and the newly constructed Tuticorin major port were merged and the Tuticorin Port Trust was constituted under the Major Port Trusts Act, 1963. Tuticorin Port is an all weather Port, well sheltered from the fury of storms and cyclonic winds and strategically situated on the international Sea route. It has nine berths apart from coal and Oil jetties.
Tuticorin Port is now well equipped with a good infrastructure and has attracted many large industries like M/s. Sterlite Industries, SPIC, DCW etc., to set up their units in and around Tuticorin. The huge volume of exports from the Garment industry from Tirupur, Erode, Karur to Europe and U.S through Tuticorin is proof of its importance in the international trade. Raw cashew is imported for processing in factories located in Kollam in neighboring Kerala. Huge quantities of Timber Logs are imported for use of several saw mills in nearby areas. Tuticorin is thus emerging as a catalyst for regional development.