Dredging Corporation signs major ship building pact with Cochin Shipyard

The shipyard signed a building agreement with Dredging Corporation of India to build India’s first 12,000 cubic meter dredger


Cochin Shipyard | Dredging Corporation

Dhruvaksh Saha  | 
New Delhi 

With the government’s focus on Make in India, the Dredging Corporation of India and Cochin Shipyard on Thursday signed an agreement to build India’s first domestically-manufactured high-capacity dredger. The 12000 cubic meter trailing suction hopper dredger (TSHD), which is being built at a cost of Rs 920 crore, will be delivered in 34 months.

The DCI Dredge Brahmaputra vessel, which is to be used for desilting water bodies at a large scale, will be instrumental in facilitating the smooth mobility of both freight and passenger vessels, Union minister of Ports Shipping and Waterways Sarbananda Sonowal said at the signing ceremony.

Dredging Corporation is an erstwhile Government of India owned company, which disinvested to four government-owned major ports in 2019.

“Till now, we had to import these dredgers from a Dutch firm–IHC Holland–which has a monopoly in this market. With the building of this dredger, we are foraying into building a full-scale dredger manufacturing ecosystem. The long-term aim is to be self-reliant in manufacturing,” a senior ministry official said, adding that production opportunities can open up for several private players in the future

With the embassies of India and The Netherlands involved in the negotiations, IHC Holland will be providing the basic design and technical know-how for the project.

“As the economy grows, we need to incorporate more dredgers in the maritime ecosystem,” Sonowal said. He added that this project is also a beneficiary of the Shipbuilding Financial Assistance Policy, which subsidises manufacturing for shipyards by up to 17 per cent of the contract value, actual payments received, or fair price, whichever is the lowest.

Sonowal said that the move will significantly help in achieving Maritime India Vision 2030, which envisages investments upwards of Rs 3 trillion in Indian ports and a potential unlocking of more than Rs 20,000 crore of revenue.

Over the last 40 years, Dredging Corporation has imported its entire fleet of 10 TSHDs and two cutter suction dredgers. The cost of an imported TSHD comes around Rs 1000 crore.

“While the cost of importing vis-à-vis manufacturing is largely similar, we save valuable foreign exchange and generate growth opportunities for the micro small and medium enterprise (MSME) sector by making it in India,” the official said.

Meanwhile, Cochin Shipyard’s chairman & managing director Madhu Nair said that the lack of price differential is on account of the novelty of the project. He added that as the scale of production increases, the manufacturing cost of the dredger is likely to come down.

Dredging is the process of desilting river bodies, or removal of soil, mud, and dirt at the shores or the bottom. In the absence of dredging, vessels could be stuck at shore or face mobility issues, causing significant delays in movement.

“Currently, 70 per cent of our dredging requirement is for maintenance dredging (maintaining water bodies previously dredged), while the rest accounts for capital dredging (desilting for new projects),” Inland Waterways Authority of India chairman Sanjay Bandopadhyaya said, adding that it is expected to double by 2030.

It is the first of the two vessels that the central government envisages in the next four years.

“We’ll do an evaluation after the first two are built, and we’ll take our next steps based on the demand and supply,” said another senior government official, adding that there are no other immediate or medium-term targets for domestic production of dredgers.

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