Ample Opportunities: Dredging at new ports and upcoming terminals

Dredging at new ports and upcoming terminals

With the development of greenfield ports as well as new terminals and berths at existing ports, capital and maintenance dredging requirements are likely to increase substantially. A number of projects offering significant opportunity for dredging companies are already under way.

A look at dredging activities by the Maharashtra Maritime Board (MMB) and Dighi port…

MMB, constituted in November 1996, is responsible for the development, control and management of state ports and related maritime infrastructure.

MBB’s hydrographic department undertakes hydrographic surveys, prepares bathymetric fair sheets and publishes annual tide tables for all non-major ports in Maharashtra. It also undertakes pre- and post-dredging surveys. The marine engineering department is responsible for the maintenance, repair and operation of MMB vessels and also undertakes the dredging of navigational channels for passenger routes. At present, MMB owns 29 dredging assets.

The Maharashtra government in accordance with National Green Tribunal rules formulated a comprehensive sand dredging policy in May 2015 to control illegal sand dredging activities in the coastal regulation zone. As per the policy, the dredging method to be used depends upon the depth required (as decided by MMB). The board undertakes manual dredging for achieving a 3 metre depth and mechanical dredging for a 5 metre depth. Further, according to the policy, the allottees of sand dredging blocks are required to pay royalty  in advance, on the sand that is to be dredged. The dredged sand is sold in the open market and is used for construction activities. Getting the environmental clearance is mandatory for sand dredging by mechanical means and in the case of manual dredging, a seven-member committee (headed by the district collector) accords the environmental clearance in accordance with the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change memorandum of November 8, 2011.

Of the seven greenfield ports in Maharashtra, three ports – Dighi, JSW Jaigarh and Angre – have commenced operations, while four others – Rewas, Vijaydurg, Redi and Vadhavan – are in the pipeline. The JSW Jaigarh port requires annual maintenance dredging of 1.9 million cubic metres (mcum) and Angre port requires 0.39 mcum. Phase I of Vijaydurg port has envisaged 0.6 mcum of capital dredging and 0.03 mcum of maintenance dredging every year.

Apart from this, Maharashtra has six captive jetties and six multi-purpose jetties in the pipeline with a capacity of over 10 million tonnes. These jetties also offer massive dredging opportunities.

The inland waterways segment in Maharashtra also offers significant opportunity for dredging. The new National Waterway-10 (Amba river) will be developed by MMB and the Inland Waterways Authority of India. For maintaining a 5 metre depth, the Amba river will require 0.18 mcum of rock dredging and 6 mcum of capital dredging.

Dredging will also be undertaken for land reclamation for the proposed Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Memorial project, for which global tenders are expected to be invited in October or November 2016. Further, MMB is also executing the Asian Development Bank-funded Sustainable Coastal Protection Investment Management Programme. The work is proposed to be undertaken at Marine Drive, Devbag and Mahim Bay. Dredging is envisaged to be undertaken for the sand requirements of the beach nourishment work.

Dighi port, a greenfield port in Maharashtra, is being developed as a multi-purpose, multi-cargo, all-weather port with deep draught and direct berthing facilities. Operations at Dighi port have been divided into two banks – north and south. The south bank of the port has two operational berths. Dredging on the bank was done three years ago, but the full depth of 14.5 metres has not yet been achieved. The berths have a draught of approximately 10 metres at present. Besides this, there are three upcoming berths, which will require capital dredging. The total dredging requirement of the south bank is 1.5 mcum.

At the north bank, construction work has started on three berths. These require total dredging of around 2.5 mcum. The planned liquid and compressed natural gas terminals also offer opportunity for dredging. Further, two multi-purpose container terminals planned to be developed at the north bank over the next two-three years also offer huge prospects for dredging.

Overall, smaller ports in Maharashtra offer significant business opportunities for various dredging companies. While the state government is providing support to these private ports, the issues in obtaining land and environmental clearances along with the opposition from locals and the lack of good hinterland connectivity remain key challenges. w

Based on the remarks by Susanta Panda, President, Operations, Dighi Port; and a presentation by Commander Sandeep Kumar, Hydrographer, Maharashtra Maritime Board