In troubled waters: Vessel that ferried PM in 2017 up for sale

Ahmedabad, Dec 3 (PTI) The famed vessel which ferried Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2017 during inauguration of the roll on-roll off (Ro-Ro) ferry service between Ghogha and Dahej in Gujarat has been put up for sale by its loss-making operator.

The passenger-only vessel, 'Island Jade', which had transported Modi from Ghogha in Bhavnagar district to Dahej in Bharuch in October 2017, was put up on sale last week by its operator, Indigo Seaways.

However, due to high accumulation of silt at Dahej terminal, ferry operations have been halted for an indefinite period since September 23.

The company also owns and operates a much larger vessel, 'Voyage Symphony', which was inducted more recently and is capable of ferrying both passengers as well as vehicles over the Gulf of Khambhat.

However, high accumulation of silt at Dahej terminal has rendered the vessels inoperative.

'We do not know when the dredging (at Dahej terminal) would be completed and when we will be able to restart the operations. We are incurring losses of around Rs 40 lakh per month.

'It is getting difficult for us to pay the installments to banks as both the vessels were purchased on loan and there is no income since September,' said Chetan Contractor, MD and CEO of Indigo Seaways.

'In such a situation, we have decided to sell the smaller vessel to cover the loss.

'In the long run, we may think of exiting the business if we do not get the required depth of 5 meters to operate the ferry without any trouble,' said Contractor.

On September 23, the Gujarat Maritime Board, a state- run entity handling port-related matters, had announced indefinite suspension of the Ro-Ro ferry as the water level at Dahej port dropped from five metres to one metre due to accumulation of silt.

According to GMB CEO Mukesh Kumar, dredging has already started at Dahej terminal.

'We are hopeful of getting required depth by the end of December,' he said. PTI PJT PD RSY RSY