The Department of War Transport was formed in July, 1942, by the bifurcation of the then Department. Of Communications into two Departments Viz. (i) Department of Posts and (ii) Department of War Transport.
The functions allocated to the Department of War Transport including Major Ports, Railways Priorities, utilization of road and water transport, Petrol rationing and Producer Gas. Broadly speaking, the functions of the War Transport Department were to coordinate the demands for transport in war time, Coastal Shipping and the administration and development of major ports. Later, the planning of export was undertaken as a corollary to the Departments control of transport priorities.
During the year 1957 the Department of War Transport was renamed as Ministry of Transport & Communications and Department of Transport was placed under it.
In the President's order of January 25, 1966, Ministry of Transport was renamed in the Department of Transport, Shipping & Tourism in the Ministry of Transport and Aviation.
The former Ministry of Transport and Aviation was bifurcated into the Ministry of Shipping and Transport, and the Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation with effect from 13.03.1967.
On re-organisation of Ministries/Departments, the erstwhile Ministry of Transport and Shipping became the Department of Surface Transport under the Ministry of Transport with effect from 25.09.1985.
On further re-organisation of Ministries/Department, the Department of Surface Transport under Ministry of Transport was renamed as Ministry of Surface Transport with effect from 22.10.1986.
The Ministry of Surface Transport was subsequently re-organized into departments, namely Department of Shipping and Department of Road Transport and Highways vide notification dated 15.10.1999.
Further vide notification dated 17.11.2000 the Ministry of Surface Transport has been bifurcated into two Ministries namely Ministry of Road Transport and Highways and Ministry of Shipping.
Ministry of Shipping and Ministry of Road Transport has again been merged and renamed as Ministry of Shipping, Road Transport and Highways vide notification dated 2.9.2004. There are two Department viz. Department of Shipping and Department of Road Transport & Highways.
In view of the imperative need for close coordination of effort between the authorities concerned with Railway Development and those concerned with the development road communications and transport, the heading of post-war road planning including Central Road Fund and the administration of Motor Vehicles Act were transferred from the Department of Posts and Air to the Department of War Transport on 15th July, 1944.
Consequent on passing the Section 27-A of the Indian Railways Act, the work pertaining to Railways Priorities was transferred to Ministry of Railways with effect from. 1st April, 1951.
The heading Maritime Shipping & Navigation and Lighthouses and Lightships were transferred from Ministry of Commerce to the Ministry of Transport with effect from 1st February, 1951.
From the year 1952 to 2957 the Ministry of Transport was responsible for general transport, coordination and the administration and development of major ports, maritime shipping and lighthouses, inland water transport.