(Continued from issue XXVII)

  • Sagarmala And Focus On Dredging

In July 2015, Sagarmala, the government’s most ambitious programme for the port sector till date, was launched. The National Perspective Plan of the programme was released in April 2016. So far, 605 projects, involving an investment of over Rs 8.7 trillion, have been identified over the four focus areas of Sagarmala port modernisation and new port development, port connectivity enhancement, portlinked industrialisation, and coastal community development. These projects are to be implemented by 2035. The development of six new ports Sagar, Cuddalore/Sirkazhi, Belekeri, Vadhavan, Paradip outer harbour and Enayam has also been announced as a part of the programme. A significant amount of dredging will be undertaken as part of these projects. Further, to give a push to coastal traffic at ports, the Coastal Berth Scheme under the Sagarmala programme has been extended for three years (till March 31, 2020). Its scope has also been expanded to cover capital dredging at the major ports as well as the preparation of detailed project reports for the development of new coastal berths.

Committee on Security approved the guidelines for processing the security clearance of bidders for publicprivate partnerships and dredging projects in major ports. Also, the Dredging Guidelines for Major Ports, 2015, have brought clarity on various issues that have resulted in disputes and led to arbitration in the past, thereby delaying dredging projects. Amendments to the guidelines for chartering foreign flag dredgers, promoting the indigenous manufacturing of vessels through financial assistance to domestic shipyards, easing the process of vessel registration, etc., are some of the other important initiatives.

Dredging Projects under Sagarmala Programme
Project Name Project Cost
(Rs. Cr)
Completion Date
Deepening of Approach Channel Capesize vessels at Mormugao 193.50 September 2019
Channel and Basin Deepening of Inner Harbour Tuticorin for Fully Loaded Panamax Ships 3,090.00 July 2021
Capital dredging at Versova 37.00 September 2020
Capital Dredging at Old Mangaluru Port -Bengre Side 29.00 March 2021
Capital dredging- including rock dredging at Karwar port to increase the draft up to 16m 100.00 December 2025
Capital Dredging for Puducherry Port 68.75 June 2021
Dredging at Vanakbara Port of UT of Daman & Diu 46.44 NA
Dredging at Diu port of UT of Daman & Diu 45.90 NA
Maintenance dredging at Karaikal port 15.00 NA

Source : Indian Infrastructure

  • Inland Dredging

India has about 14,500 km of navigable waterways which comprise of rivers, canals, backwaters, creeks, etc. With the enactment of the National Waterways Act, 2016, the government has declared 106 waterways across 24 states as National Waterways in addition to the five existing.

There are some constraints in transporting men and material regularly on inland waterways due to silt that comes with monsoon, hence periodic dredging is required so that adequate depth is maintained. Many rivers are drying up, many that retain volumes have low bridges that would hinder passage of vessels. India invested Rs. 1,605 crore from 2014 to 2018, while in comparison China invested Rs. 1,09,000 crore from 2005 to 2010.

  • Ganga Dredging

In 2014, the Union Government announced the Rs. 5,369 crore NW1 project for capacity augmentation with technical and financial assistance from the World Bank.

Spanning 1,400 kms from Allahabad to Haldia on the river Ganga that would come up with technical and financial assistance of the World Bank (WB). The primary objective is to enable movement of cargo on vessels up to 1,500 to 2,000 tonnes. Under this project there will be three multi-modal terminals with railway and road connectivity at Varanasi (U.P.), Sahibganj in Jharkhand and at Haldia in Bengal. There will be constructions of new navigation lock at Farakka. Keeping in mind that a rail rake carries 2,200 tonnes of cargo, there will be operating vessels with the capacity of 1,500 to 2,000 tonnes.

According to the dredging (desilting) management plan for Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP), dredged material will not be deposited outside the river. The bed of the river is not being disturbed. Only maintenance dredging will be done to desilt 20 % bed load silt even as 80% of silt is in suspension.

Under dredging programme, it has been decided to create a 1,400 km channel with a width of 45 metres and a minimum draft of 3 metres from Varanasi to Haldia to enable two vessels to pass smoothly. M/s DST, Germany will design ships for this. Initially they will be designing car carriers which will have capacity to carry 300 cars and these vessels would require about 1.5 metres water depth. To address concerns of environmentalist’s, objective is to design special vessels that can run on low draft but can carry high capacity. M/s DST, Germany is designing LNG-powered vessels.

The government is replicating the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) model of highway contracts in waterways projects. (EPC model means the project will be funded by the government and the contractor will have to meet certain set specifications and parameters) The agency will issue assured depth dredging contracts. Instead of a shore location, the IWAI will select, and award water stretches. Appended below are water stretches planned to carry out dredging work.

Dredging Management Plan for Ganga river
Stretch Qty to be dredged million Cum Least assured depth (LAD)
Farakka - Kahalgaon (146 kms) 2.865 3M
Sultanganj - Mahendrapur (74 kms) 3.369 3M
Mahendrapur – Barh (71 kms) 3.232 3M
Barh – Doriganj (109 kms) 8.974 2.5M
Doriganj - Ghazipur (178 kms) 8.665 2.5M
Ghazipur - Varanasi (133 kms) 7.120 2.2M
Kahalgaon - Sultanganj (50 km) No dredging due to the presence of Dolphin Sanctuary.

Source : JMVP

According to IWAI work on multimodal terminals in Varanasi, Haldia and Sahibganj terminals was in full swing and these were expected to be ready for operations by March 2022.

The 140 km stretch of the navigational lock from Farakka to Kahalgaon, contract for which has been given to Adani Ports. The Sahibganj navigational lock being built by L&T, Varanasi being built by Shapoorji Palloonji group company Afcons and Haldia.

  • Farakka - Kahalgaon (146 Kms) - Adani Group

To facilitate cargo movement from Kolkata, IWAI has entered into a 30-year contract with Bangladesh’s Summit Alliance in April 2018 to operate and maintain a jetty at Garden Reach near the Kolkata Dock Complex. As part of the project, the Adani group has been awarded the contract to dredge the Farakka- Kahalgao section of the Ganga for five years. IWAI are focussing on dredging only the shoals (natural ridges) to create a 35-metre-wide channel with assured draft, causing limited disturbance to the river.

  • Opportunities And Challenges

Going forward, significant growth momentum is expected in the Indian dredging industry. Most of this growth will be driven by the government’s plans to develop new waterways and ports and modernise and expand existing ports. India Infrastructure Research estimates that more than 25 dredging projects are planned or are currently being undertaken at major ports. In the coming years, the demand to dredge around 170 million cum is expected at the existing major ports alone. Further, at least eight dredging projects are on the anvil at existing non-major ports, and around 18 million cum is proposed to be dredged under these projects. In addition, the six new ports that are planned to be set up under Sagarmala offer another area of opportunity for the dredging segment.

Meanwhile, the declaration of 106 new NWs also presents a huge opportunity. In the next 10 years, over 200 million cum of dredging volume has been assessed for the existing five waterways as well as the 32 new NWs that have so far been found viable for development given this increase in dredging requirement, the sector offers ample opportunities for private players, as Dredging Corporation of India Limited (DCI) alone cannot meet the immense industry demand.

At the same time, there will be an increase in the demand for new dredgers. Significant scope exists for the indigenous manufacturing of dredgers due to their cost competitiveness. However, since Indian shipyards are yet to gain the technical know-how for manufacturing dredgers and dredging equipment, most of the opportunities are expected to be tapped into by foreign players, at least in the short term.

  • Way Ahead……

While the growth potential is huge, there are some areas that will need attention. For instance, contracts will need to be well defined, with a clear allocation of risks and responsibilities across all stakeholders; dredged material will need to be properly managed; effective coordination among various authorities and stakeholders will have to be ensured for faster project execution; and greater stress will have to be laid on manpower training. The procedure for obtaining approvals and clearances from the government will also need to be fast-tracked. Besides, dedicated repair and dry-docking facilities for dredgers need to be set up. Once steps are taken to address such issues, the segment will be set to realise its true potential.