The facility to come up at its century-old boat basin and timber pond

Following a huge demand for ship repair works in the country, the Chennai Port Trust (ChPT) will develop a dry dock facility at its century-old boat basin and timber pond that would cater to smaller vessels.

It will be the second dock in the east coast, after Hooghly Dock and Port Engineers at Kolkata. Though L&T Kattupalli Port has a ship building/repair facility, it is a non-major port and caters to larger vessels.

According to industry sources, vessels from the east coast often visit shipyards in Singapore for dry docking, while dredgers, tugs and cruise boats go to Colombo for repairs due to non-availability of dry docks in the Indian coast and quick turnaround time. The waiting period for some of the vessels in Indian docks are said to be over 12 months. Some vessels went to China docks due to cheaper tariff.

Created about 100 years ago, timber pond and boat basin are located in the southwest end of inner harbour (Ambedkar dock) of the Chennai Port. The boat basin is used for parking tugs, pilot launches and pollution cleaning vessels. It also serves as a shelter for small crafts. There is also a slipway meant for underwater repairs. However, the timber pond is not in vogue for over 50 years.

Taking all these factors into consideration, ChPT decided to develop a ship repairing facility for smaller vessels and appointed Howe India Private Ltd as feasibility report consultant. The move was aimed at offsetting the revenue losses incurred due to ban on handling coal and iron ore since October 2011.

Pointing out that the draft feasibility report was submitted last week a ChPT official says the Rs. 315-crore project will have marine facilities, water depths, facilities for vessel launching and docking, dry dock, wet berth requirements, maintenance shop and warehousing facility.

Currently, the timber pond and boat basin area have basic infrastructure such as water area, land area, a small slipway and workshop facilities.

In his report, the consultant said the dry dock would cater to smaller vessels and also harbour crafts of Chennai, Ennore, Krishnapatnam, Kattupalli and Karaikal ports, mainly for tugs, pollution control vessels, dredgers and floating cranes. He suggested six alternative ways of developing the dry dock facilities. The project would be developed under the public-private-partnership mode in 18 months.

Bids would be floated next month.

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