Prime Minister Narendra Modi's dream project of a Ro-Ro (Roll-on, Roll-off) ferry service between Dahej in south Gujarat and Ghogha in Saurashtra region has run into rough weather with the firm running the service blaming it on the Gujarat Maritime Board for not carrying out regular dredging in the area, while it is unable to handle the high tides in the erratic Arabian Sea.
Indigo Seaways Chairman and Managing Director Chetan Contractor told reporters: "It is not feasible to run a scheduled ferry service in absolutely unreliable high tides, so it is a must that continuous dredging is taken up in the region."
"If this is not done, there is no point running an erratic service completely dependent on high tides," the contractor said. His company is also learnt to have conveyed this to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO).
"The services have become unreliable because of the erratic high tides. We can't ask the passengers to come at different times everyday. The passengers too have commitments to maintain," he asserted.
Despite that the project was taken up and last year the ferry services were inaugurated by the Prime Minister. Indigo Seaways was awarded the contract to run this services. But since its start, the service has never been regular because of the weather and technical glitches
When contacted, Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) Chief Executive Officer and Vice Chairman Mukesh Kumar said that dredging was affected because of the breakdown of the machinery for the purpose.
"There was a breakdown in the dredging machines of Adani Company and so the problem," he said. The machinery is worth Rs 600 crore.
"Alternative arrangements have been made and the dredging work will start in a couple of days," Mukesh Kumar added.
According to him, the ferry service is functional and will remain so. "You must understand this service has started only a couple of months ago and facing some teething problems. The high tides in this region are considered to be the second-worst in the world and so this happens sometimes."
Then Gujarat Chief Minister and now Prime Minister Narendra Modi had dreamt of making the RoRo ferry services between Dahej and Ghogha successful and possible despite various feasibility studies giving a negative report.
The nautical distance between the Saurashtra region's Ghogha and the south Gujarat region town of Dahej is just 31 km, whereas the distance via road is almost 310 km.
Reliable official sources said various feasibility studies, which were carried out prior to the Narendra Modi Government in Gujarat, had suggested that the seawaters in the Gulf of Khambhat were extremely turbulent and running any sort of ferry would not be possible.
Despite that the project was taken up and last year the ferry services were inaugurated by the Prime Minister. Indigo Seaways was awarded the contract to run this services. But since its start, the service has never been regular because of the weather and technical glitches.
Sources said for a successful ferry service to operate, there should be at least five-meter depth underneath the sea vessel at the terminal. But as the waters in the Gulf of Khambhat, through which the ferry service is run, are extremely turbulent, the sea constantly deposits silt at the banks, making dredging a constant process, thus making it an expensive proposition.