Cochin Port Trust is gearing up to meet a quantum jump in dredging expenses and increased outflows on salary accounts over the next two to three years as India's first container transhipment terminal goes on stream.

The Chairman of Cochin Port Trust N. Ramachandran told reporters here that the Port Trust would be able to overcome its financial constraints after 2014, by which time income from handling ships and revenue from other sources would increase substantially.

This was a situation the Port Trust had foreseen and there is no walking away from this difficult positions, Mr. Ramachandran told reporters at a press conference.

He said that dredging expenses were expected to mount because until the shipping channel achieved stability, maintenance dredging would be an expensive one for the port.

However, the Port Trust was exploring ways to meet the cost through a sharing of expenses with institutions like the Indian Navy and Cochin Shipyard, which benefit from the maintenance of depth achieved in the outer channels.

While the Port Trust has worked out a methodology for sharing the dredging expenses with Petronet LNG for the LNG project here, the Navy and Cochin Shipyard have so far refused to be a party to sharing the dredging expenses. Sharing of the expenses on dredging will be part of the concession agreement being reached with Petronet LNG, Mr. Ramachandran said.

He said that all over the world, governments bear the cost of dredging and maintaining shipping channels considering that they are part of the maritime infrastructure. In fact, the government of India foots the bill for dredging operations for Kolkatta port, which spends between Rs. 450 crore and 500 crore on dredging annually.

Kochi is the port that spends the highest amount on maintenance dredging after Kolkatta Port, the Port Trust Chairman said.

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