Staff Reporter

KOCHI: Cochin Port Trust (CPT) has re-tendered capital dredging work for the approach channel to the proposed International Container Transshipment Terminal and its berth basin and maintenance dredging for the Port channels between September 2008 and December 2010.

Bids have been invited for an indicative quantum of 26.50 million cubic metres of capital dredging and 37.40 million cubic metres of maintenance dredging.

Cancelled tenders

The works are being re-tendered after the Board of Trustees of the Port Trust cancelled the tenders it called in November last year after it was found that the bidder quoted extremely high rates for the dredging works. Reports indicated that while the Port Trust expected the dredging works to cost Rs. 486 crore, the amount quoted for the work was much higher at Rs. 805 crore.

The cancellation came even as trade unions at the Port alleged that foreign dredging companies had aligned together to fleece major ports in the country.

Trade unions plea

Trade unions had also sought the intervention of the Union Ministry for Shipping in speeding up the process of finalising the dredging work in view of the importance of the dredging work to the establishment of the International Container Transshipment Terminal on Vallarpadam Island.

Capital dredging operations aim to achieve 14.5-metre draft in the approach channel and at the ICTT berth basin. Achieving this draft is one of the conditions in the agreement between Cochin Port Trust and India Gateway Terminals Private Limited (IGTL) for the establishment of the transhipment terminal.

To the rescue

As the Cochin Port trust Authorities tried to tackle the issue of escalating cost of both capital and maintenance dredging, the Union Government came to its rescue with the Public Investment Board recommending a grant of Rs. 297 crore and a loan of Rs. 83 crore for the Port Trust towards meeting the dredging cost. The Public Investment Board considers proposals of Union Ministries for public sector undertakings and the recommendation has to be approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs.