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Stop DCI disinvestment: Trade

Aditya Sabharwal
In an unexpected move last month, the government of India called for the entire stake sale of DCI. The government, which holds about 73% stake in DCI had in a recent Cabinet meeting approved for its disinvestment.
This has left many baffled keeping in mind that DCI, since its inception has been a profit making entity and is generally considered to be a monopoly in the dredging space in India.
DCI which comes under the Ministry of Shipping employs more than 1700 people including contractual and non- contractual workers wherein about 360 are said to be shore based while the others are floating staff.
‘DCI has the most experienced dredging manpower in the country’ says an industry insider.
A quick glance at DCI’s profit after tax figures shows an impressive rise from Rs 1318 lakhs in 2011-12 to Rs 7967 lakhs in 2015-16 (See graph).
With about 17 dredgers which cost anywhere between Rs 300 – Rs600 crores, one estimates that DCI should atleast fetch Rs 5000 crores from the disinvestment if not more.
However, with the disinvestment the government is looking to fetch just about Rs 1400 crores.
The average age of DCI dredgers are said to be about 17 years and these dredgers are said to have a life span for as long as 35-40 years. The oldest dredge is 42 years and is still said to be in working condition.
‘With the ambitious Sagarmala project and the technical expertise of DCI staff the future of DCI is very bright. The government should re-think its decision of privatizing DCI’ says Mr G SambaSiva Rao, President AP Chambers.
Stating that dredging is a continuous process Mr Rao says the government will be better of keeping DCI under its control than giving it in the hands of private people.
In addition DCI’s order book for the current year itself is said to be about Rs 650 crores. DCI recently won an order worth Rs 100 crores in Bangladesh too. With statistics like these one wonders what prompted the government to call for its privatization.
One of the strongest critics of this disinvestment has been Mr Narasinga Rao, CITU, state president. ‘Why does the government want to hand over an efficiently run company like DCI to private hands? It is against the interest of our nation and also Andhra Pradesh’ says the CITU state president.
Email and phone queries to Joint secretary shipping & government director DCI on government’s reasoning for privatizing DCI went unanswered.

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