Bangalore: Private dredging firm Jaisu Shipping Co. Pvt. Ltd is likely to deepen the shipping channel of state-owned Cochin Port Trust in Kerala at an estimated cost of Rs549 crore.
The Kandla, Gujarat-based firm had bid to deepen the port’s channel to 16.5m from 13.8m in the first 17 months of signing a deal and maintain that depth for another 11 months, said a shipping ministry official, who didn’t want to be named. At this depth, big ships carrying 8,000 containers can call at the port.
Jaisu Shipping’s price bid was the only one opened by the port, as the only other bid submitted by Backbone Projects Ltd was rejected on technical grounds, the official said.
The Kewalramani family-owned Jaisu Shipping is also close to winning another deal worth Rs402 crore from Union government-owned Mumbai port to deepen its channel to 14m from 11m, to help operations at a container terminal being developed by Gammon Infrastructure Projects Ltd and Dragados SPL of Spain.
Jaisu Shipping recently won a Rs192 crore deal from Kandla port to deepen its channel. The company declined to comment for the story.
The Cochin port has to provide a depth of 16.5m in the channel by November 2009, as per a 30-year contract with DP World, the world’s fourth biggest container port operator, to develop and operate the new facility.
Due to depth constraints, big ships cannot call at many of India’s ports that handle container cargo. Thus, a significant part of container cargo originating from, or bound for India is transhipped at ports in Colombo, Singapore, or Dubai.
Colombo port, for instance, handles 3.3 million standard containers a year, about 60% of which originates at, or are bound for Indian ports.
This is Cochin port’s second attempt in a year to award a dredging contract. The earlier attempt failed because the lone bid of Rs805 crore submitted by Belgian firm Dredging International NV was deemed too costly.
Jaisu Shipping’s Rs549 bid is also higher than the Rs485 crore Cochin port had budgeted for the deepening, but the port is likely to accept it because the excess is 20% more than the budget, a range that falls within the parameters the shipping ministry has allowed for state-owned major ports.