Shipping Ministry not keen on Bangla’s Payra port

The Union Shipping Ministry is not inclined towards investing in and operating the Payra port in Bangladesh, due to high dredging cost. It has conveyed its reservation to the Prime Minister’s Office and Foreign Ministry, asking them to take the final call.

 

About $3 billion will be India’s contribution in developing the port, which is coming up in Patuakhali district of Southern Bangladesh.

 

A senior Shipping Ministry official told BusinessLine line that if the Centre does not take a call on the project, then the Chinese government could step in and develop it for their own commercial and strategic advantages. Due to massive siltation on coastal Bangladesh, maintenance dredging of the port is like keeping and feeding a white elephant. The Shipping Ministry has also told the PMO and Foreign Ministry that it could build the port and other infrastructure at Payra on an EPC basis, but maintaining and operating it could become a very expensive affair, the official said.

 

Maintenance

Maintenance dredging of ports and harbours are regularly required for keeping the safe depths of navigation channels, which allow safe entry and exit of the ships.

 

The depth of a channel decrease due to deposition of silt, sediments and other material. To restore the depth, removal of the accumulated material is carried out at fixed intervals.

 

The official added that questions have been raised about the Bangladeshi government’s insistence of having an 18-meter draft in the port. A deep draft will allow very large ships to be docked, but given the size of Bangladesh’s economy, whether such ships will call on the harbour is also a question.

 

(This article was published on January 20, 2016)