Dredging Corporation of India

Dredging Corporation of India

G K Vasan’s Wish Not Fulfilled

Dredging Corporation of India (DCI) has decided to purchase higher capacity hopper dredgers. It will be procuring two 9000 cubic metres hoppers capacity dredgers for capacity enhancement in order to fulfil the dredging requirements of various ports. DCI has also ordered for the purchase of three state-of-the-art trailer suction hopper dredgers with hopper capacity equal to 5500 cubic metres. The order will be executed by IHC Dredgers BV of Netherlands. The order is worth € 250 million. The new dredger was named as DCI Dredge XIX. The Union Minister for Shipping G K Vasan wanted to name it as E V R Periyar Dredge in honour of E V R Periyar of Tamil Nadu who took pride in insulting the Hindu Gods and Goddesses. But Sonia Gandhi did not want that name and so G K Vasan’s wish was not fulfilled.

Dredging Industry Is Doing Well

Dredging sector has outperformed other subsectors of the maritime sectors. Till recently, only a couple of players existed in the dredging sector. But today approximately 25 players exist in the sector. Earlier there were more foreign companies in the dredging sector than Indian companies. But today Indian firms outnumber their foreign counterparts. The government of India is yet to come out with a new policy applicable for the dredging sector. The earlier policy was framed five years back. A lot of water has flown down the bridge since then and it is time the government applies its mind to frame a new policy keeping in tune with the present day reality.

Vast Opportunities

Port authorities are forced to go for dredging in order to scale up the draft of the channels as ultra big ships are frequenting the ports now. It is estimated that the total dredging requirement from 2011 to 2015 in India is 1000 million cubic metres. Out of this figure, maintenance dredging accounts for around 425 million cubic metres. At the major ports, the dredging opportunity in the coming two years is a sizeable $850 million. In the non-major and private ports, the opportunity is nearly double. The vision plan 2010-20 envisages increasing the port draft to a minimum of 14 metres. Dredging projects estimated to cost around Rs.200 billion have been planned.

Dredging Is Very Complex

Dredging policy does not merely mean procurement of dredging. It has many layers and is very complex. There is a need to introduce new technology and equipments in dredging. Depth survey needs to be standardised in all the Indian ports. There is a setback to the Hooghly River dredging with only 2 dredgers in operation. DCI is afflicted with ageing fleet. Its turnover declined by more than Rs.100 crore in 2010-11 because of the ageing fleet. The Finance Ministry is not in favour of disinvestment in DCI now. The government of India has already disinvested around 22.5% of its stake in the company. It can disinvest to a maximum of 25%.

Competition from Private Firms

There is competition from the private companies which has forced DCI to expand its fleet. It is a question of do or die in the midst of acute competition in the dredging industry.

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