India’s Dredging Market Must Boost Ports Trade: NITI Aayog

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India needs to open up its dredging market to boost trade by its major ports which at present cannot handle very large vessels in absence of proper draft depth, Government think tank Niti Aayog has said.

More competition mainly from global players in dredging activities would help increase and maintain draft depth at ports and attract large vessels, enabling them to become hub ports, the Aayog mentioned.

At present, the Dredging Corporation of India (DCI) and a limited set of private vendors serve the Indian dredging market, limiting competition.

“The Government needs to open up the dredging market to attract more players, particularly international players, in dredging activities to increase and maintain draft depth at ports to attract large vessels and enable them to become hub ports,” Niti Aayog has said.

Foreign players will be attracted to the market if the Government takes measures such as consolidating dredging contracts across cohorts of ports and withdrawing, at least temporarily, the right to the first refusal given to Indian vendors, it said.

To enable major ports to handle large vessels, the Government has already made an action plan to increase the draft depth of ports.

Most major ports have already achieved a draft depth of 14 meters or more except Kolkata Port, where the deeper draft has not been feasible because of the riverine nature of the port.

Some major ports are striving to achieve deeper drafts up to 18 metres. The outer harbor in Visakhapatnam has very deep draft of more than 18 metres. Work is in progress to create a draft of more than 18 metres in Mormugao and Kamarajar Port.

The Government currently holds 73.44 percent in Dredging Corporation of India Ltd (DCIL).

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