The debate over the Ram Setu would incur huge losses for the Shipping Ministry as Sethusamudram Corporation Ltd. is shelling out Rs 1.25 crore a day for implementing the project, say officials.
“Dredging work cannot be delayed by even a day, as the corporation has taken five dredgers on rent and is paying Rs 25 lakh a day for each. The ministry is also planning to put in five more dredgers on work soon,” said a ministry source.
“The machines are not easily available and are in great demand globally. If we ask the dredgers to stop work, we may not be able to get them back in the near future and may lose out on time as well as money,” another source added.
The Dredging Corporation of India has very few dredgers. While three of them are being used for the project, the rest of the machines have been hired from European countries.
“If we have to stall work on the project and hire dredgers again after a while it would cost an additional Rs 1 crore to Rs 2 crore per dredger to ferry them with the help of tugs and barges,” an official observed.
The Sethusamudram Corporation Ltd was specifically formed as a Special Purpose Vehicle for the creation of a 167-km-long, 300-metre wide and 12 metre-deep channel. This was to ensure large ships could navigate through the passage. Work has been going on for a year and about 25 per cent is complete, said a shipping ministry source.
Ministry sources feel there is no alternative. “We are trying to get as much work done as possible keeping the Supreme Court directives in view.