Andhra Pradesh

Centre going ahead with disinvestment in DCI?

A file photo of a DCI vessel pumping sand water as part of the beach nourishment in Visakhapatnam.

A file photo of a DCI vessel pumping sand water as part of the beach nourishment in Visakhapatnam.   | Photo Credit: K_R_DEEPAK

Shipping Ministry is said to have cleared the proposal; Union Cabinet’s nod awaited

The Centre has decided to go ahead with its decision on strategic sale of majority equity in the Dredging Corporation of India (DCI), a Category I ‘mini ratna’ company with headquarters in Visakhapatnam.

Following public outcry, Union Minister of State for Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Mansukh Mandaviya, during his visit to the city on March 18, had said the company would not be privatised. Highly reliable sources told The Hindu that after clearance from the Ministry, a note was being submitted to the Union Cabinet for giving its stamp of approval for the strategic sale.

Turn for the worse

The DCI has been earning profits since its inception in 1976. It earned a net profit of ₹80 crore last year. It has a paid-up capital of ₹28 crore. The company began its journey in offloading shares with 1.44% in 1991-92. The Government of India has at present a holding of 73.47%.

Despite its good track-record over the years, it has run into a financial mess as there have been no returns from the ₹300 crore it invested in the controversial Sethusamudram project. Though the high-power committee set up by the Centre recommended return of the amount, the Ministry has in principle agreed to pay ₹150 crore to ₹160 crore, which is yet to reach DCI. On the other hand, the Haldia port, one of the major clients of the DCI, cut down the rate of dredging, leading to loss of income by nearly ₹100 crore last year. DCI has a fleet consisting of 17 dredgers. It is also in the process of acquiring some more. Opening of dredging to private players has cast its shadow on DCI due to unhealthy competition and undercutting of cost by the rivals, notwithstanding the fact that they are no match to DCI’s expertise.

Visakhapatnam is home to headquarters of two public sectors – DCI and RINL.

“If DCI goes to private hands, it will not only deny us the privilege of having a corporate office but also jeopardise the interest of the employees,” DCI Non-Executive Employees’ Union honorary president V.S. Padmanabha Raju said.

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Printable version | Feb 19, 2020 11:15:45 PM |

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