Private Participation Sought For Dredging Activities In Ports

New Delhi, March 28 | Updated: Mar 29 2004, 05:30am hrs
The finance ministry has asked the shipping ministry to attract private investment in dredging activities in ports instead of solely depending on government funding. Sources said the shipping ministry had put forth a demand for a Rs 600-crore assistance for the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust and Rs 400 crore for the Kochi Port Trust towards meeting their dredging requirements.

In a recent meeting, senior officials from both the ministries discussed the issue of funding for dredging which is a highly capital intensive activity. Dredging involves removal of silt or sand from ocean or river bed with the help of barges in order to increase the depth of water or to restore the existing depth. After dredging, it becomes possible for vessels with deeper draught or weight to access a port or jetty. Dredging of one metre on an average requires Rs 100 crore.

Dredging in itself is not profitable. We do not expect private companies to take part in this activity but on suggestion from the finance ministry we will try to attract private participation, said a shipping ministry official.

New container terminal projects at JNPT and Kochi attracted private operators only after they were assured that dredging activity would be funded by the government. The only quarter from which the shipping ministry expects to get some interest is the operators because dredging and consequent berthing of bigger vessels will get them more business.

The feasibility of adopting a corporate model on the lines of a special purpose vehicle to undertake dredging activity was also discussed.