Dredging Corporation of India Limited (DCIL), a mini ratna company, which was facing a liquidity crunch till about a month ago and was unable to pay its salaries on time, appears to be back on its track and is swinging back to recovery.
A few years ago, the company faced tumultuous internal conflict, when the government had announced its disinvestment and after much resistance by the employees, the stakes were picked by four major ports. The complete holding of DCI of 73.47% were picked up Visakhapatnam Port Authority (19.47%), Jawaharalal Nehru Port Authority (18%), Paradeep Port Authority (18%) and Deenadyal Port Authority (18%) on March 8, 2019 along with the transfer of management and control.
Speaking about the bad times and its revival, Chairman of Visakhapatnam Port Authority, who is also the Chairman of DCI, K. Rama Mohana Rao, said the fortunes of a company like DCI is plummeting down looks mysterious. Dredging is an integral and continuous operation of port management. By maintaining good relations with the four major stakeholder ports and by adding a few others, the company can easily survive and also make profits, he said.
“Immediately after taking charge of the operation after the exit of the earlier managing director, the first thing we did was to improve our liquidity by getting funds from the stakeholders and renewing our contracts and relationship with them,” he said.
“We already got a cash liquidity of ₹192 crore from Deendayal Port Authority and we are expecting a few hundred (₹500 crore) more from the rest of the stakeholder ports and also from Mangalore Port and Cochin Port,” he said.
The DCI has also bagged a contract from the Cochin Port for dredging with the contract value being around ₹159 crore.
Another primary aspect taken up is augmenting and modernising its existing fleet of dredgers. Right now, the DCI has got about 10 dredgers and the Cochin Shipyard is building two more trailer suction hopper dredgers of the capacity of 10,000 cum and 8,000 cum (cubic metre), at a cost of about ₹1,000 crore.
“This apart, we are disbanding our non-performing assets such as Dredge 18,” Mr. Rama Mohana Rao said. “This dredger used to make losses when operational and also added to losses when non-functional. Moreover, we have also reduced the turnaround time drastically in the dry docks,” he added.
According to Mr. Rama Mohana Rao, the total dredge-able material per year in India, across all major and minor and river ports and inland canals, is around 1.2 million cum, but DCI is only catering to around 50,000 cum. “We need to enhance this to the next level and if things go as per our plan, then in the next five years the DCI should be touching the ₹1,500 crore- mark,” he said.
“We are also looking forward for some good business from the State government, as it plans to come up with a number of small ports,” he said.