Review of Dredge Certificates
Prof Dr GYV Victor, Member of Board – EADA (Asia & Pacific region), Secretary EADA (India) & Advisor – Dharti Dredging and Infrastructure Ltd

Though dredging industry contributes to the national economy in its own way by allowing deeper draught vessels to Indian ports, India is not able to produce dredging professionals due to lack of demand in the commercial world. This article conveys that adequate policy and measures need to be undertaken for the dredge certificates for classification under STCW convention.

Over the last decade the world trade of goods, especially transported by container, has increased substantially. This tendency of linear increase in the transportation has enabled the shipping companies to build and employ bigger ships to reduce the cost of transportation and to meet the global demands. Consequently the employment of the bigger ships stipulated the growth of world trade and economy. Due to the expected increase in the larger scale of container shipping, the ports developed its infrastructure to attract the giants of the sea. Large shipping companies often have selected few ports in their pendulum services, those ports that have the best infrastructure with lesser turnaround time. Most of the Indian ports have drastically developed their infrastructure in the last few years to accommodate the bigger vessels to attain higher revenue thereby facilitating an increase in our national revenue. The cargo handling is projected to be close to 2 billion tons by 2025. Our present forecast and analysis indicate and predict that the total volume could as well reach 1 bio tons by 2011-12. Further, the above fits exactly in the growth curve as forecasted by Dutch consultants till 2011-12, however, with a linear growth of nearly 100 per cent by 2025-26 to reach 2 bio tons. To achieve the above, deepening and widening of the channel is essential to achieve the NMD Policy.

Dredging in figures does not provide a specific outlook. Predictions for the period thereafter are difficult, however, for the Indian market, the dredging industry shall peak by 2018 and attain saturation point by 2020. It is uncertain to what extent a decline in dredging volumes is to be expected, to a certain degree, the decline in private infrastructure investments seems to be compensated by government infrastructural projects by deepening and widening of the channels for deeper draft vessels as per the plan of Shipping Ministry 2025. It is foreseen that 4.023 bio cubic meter dredging shall be required to achieve, be consistent with the growth rate to build the additional capacities, the cumulative capital dredging shall be 1.611 bio cubic meter and maintenance dredging shall be 2.412 bio cubic meter for the next 10 years ending by 2025. The maintenance dredging in India shall increase by 37.1 per cent and capital dredging by 62.9 per cent by 2020 in addition to coastal, inland and waterways dredging, presently around 28 per cent of the Indian dredging open market requires augmentation of dredging equipment.

With new government ordinance and legislation, the dredging industry in India has increased to 23 registered Indian companies from one state owned Dredging Corporation of India, dredging vessel classed with IRS has increased from 1.77 per cent to 3.93 per cent with the tonnage increase of 0.58 per cent to 1.67 per cent. Globally, in the last decade the dredgers in the world capacity have increased by 23.8 per cent. Indian flag dredgers constitute 3.98 per cent of all types, 5.64 per cent of TSHD and 4.43 per cent of CSD respectively with the global dredging statistics. Dredging fleet strength under Indian flag has increased by 34 per cent during the last half a decade with incorporation of new Indian dredging.

Indian dredging industry forms 5.27 per cent of the total national maritime sector, whereas 3.98 per cent of the Indian industry accounts for the global dredging industry. 19.5 per cent and 4.55 per cent of the dredge crew and the certified dredge professional contribute to the global dredge crew and qualified dredge professional respectively suggests that there exists opportunities. The stiff competition has resulted in a sharp increase of maintenance dredging cost by 22 to 65 per cent as compared to last decade and capital dredging has seen a sharp increase of 70 to 80 per cent.

Indian dredging industry forms 5.27 per cent of the total national maritime sector, whereas 3.98 per cent of the Indian industry accounts for the global dredging industry. 19.5 per cent and 4.55 per cent of the dredge crew and the certified dredge professional contribute to the global dredge crew and qualified dredge professional respectively. Thus, the employment opportunities within the dredging industry are relatively insignificant both in the national and international industry. Nevertheless, despite of the dredging industry plays a vital role in enhancing the national economy by providing access for deep draught vessels for waterborne transportation, relatively the cheapest mode of transportation for ages.

Unlike the west, India doesn’t produce dredging professional in large quantum to operate the dredger due to several restrictions, less demand in the commercial world and pattern of dredge certification. Dredging Corporation of India (DCI), being the only Directorate General of Shipping (DGS) approved nodal agency in India, educates and imparts training for its own in-house cadet officers for dredge examinations to build their work force.

Nonetheless, DCI has been successful in training and sustaining the deck officers to a greater extent, but miserably failed in sustaining the engineer officers, due to the limitation and restriction of the certificates under MS Act 58. Clause 78, of MS Act 58, provides certification for dredge professionals [Refer table]. The forecast for shortage of Indian dredge personnel shall be 64 per cent by 2020 against the present shortage of 31 per cent. However, opportunities continue to exist for new entrants in the dredging industry due to the quantum of development within ports sector as well the Government initiatives proposed to promote the dredging industry for competition without development of the additional infrastructure such as training needs for the industry, manpower, availability of expertise and etc.

The Government of India though have issued Government orders in 80’s for dredge certificates, along with Ministry of Shipping endeavors to put forth their best efforts to develop the maritime industry and to increase the Indian tonnage to achieve the projected rate of GDP by introducing Tonnage Tax Scheme, extended even to the dredging industry from the financial year 2005-06. It is to note that both the big and medium dredging players in India are unable to source cadet officers within the Tonnage Tax Regime, due to the lack of dredging institutions in India and for dredge certificates that has no relevance within the STCW convention, nor explained within the framework of META manual that are readily available for the budding seafarers. With the advent of information technology and the right for information, all the requisite information regarding the sea career is readily available for anyone. Further, the Income Tax Act 1961 doesn’t exempt the dredge certificates holders from Income Tax, despite the hardships and the sea conditions remain the same, for the above reasons cadet officers are reluctant to pursue dredging career. Due to the reasons cited above, there has been a constant depletion of dredge manpower over the last few decades.

With increasing potential in maritime industry, there is an immediate necessity to augment additional capacities to the existing available port capacity. With increasing need of widening and deepening of the navigational channel to build the port capacity, there exists ample opportunity for employment and business prospective within the dredging industry. Inspite of DG Shipping recent initiative of facilitating alternative training module, there exists shortage within the dredging industry due to the lack of continuous demand and supply. It is imperative that adequate policy and measures to be undertaken for the dredge certificates to be classified under STCW convention with limitation to operate dredgers only and with suitable linkage to all other certificates as the certificate is issued under MS Act 58, STCW, META Manual and MLC 2006.

(With inputs from G. Sunil Victor, G Benjamin Victor)