Dredging has gained importance in several ports across the country. Lack of sufficient draft hampers larger vessels from docking on the port and so this calls for capital and maintenance dredging. While most Indian ports have a draft of less than 12 meter, vessels like VLCCs (Very Large Crude Carriers) and capsize vessels require a draught of 14 meter and cannot dock on ports which don’t have sufficient depth. As the trade shifts to modern vessels the draft requirement is expected to go up to 14-17 meters.
Currently ports capable of berthing large vessels include Gagavaram, Vallarpadam and Kandla Port.
In order to improve the draft to 14 meter, ports like Jawaharlal Nehru Port, Chennai, Tuticorin have employed dredgers.
This year’s budget has allocated Rs 600 crore for capital dredging projects and dredging and survey organization as compared to Rs 245 crore last year. None of the Indian companies have the wherewithal to manufacture large dredgers.
For instance, Dredging Corporation of India (DCI) has procured its dredgers from IHC, Holland, a market leader in this space, because the technology is not available in India. India has no real capacity in dredging business.
Because of its expertise in shipbuilding, Cochin Shipyard can manufacture the “hull” of the dredger but may have to find a partner to build the machinery, reports indicate.
Besides DCI, Indian companies which provide dredging services include Jaisu Shipping, Mercator. Most of the companies source the machinery from European countries for large scale projects.