PANAJI: South Korean shipyard Kangnam Corporation and Italian shipbuilding firm Intermarine have begun discussions with Goa Shipyard Limited (GSL) to build 12 mine countermeasure vessels or minesweepers for the Indian Navy. The project is worth Rs 32,640 crore.

While Kangnam has already submitted its response to the expression of interest (EOI) issued by GSL, a high-level Intermarine team arrived in Goa on Wednesday for talks.

This is the third attempt by India to acquire technology for indigenous development of minesweepers. The Indian Navy, as well as Kangnam, hope that the fresh efforts bear fruit as the Navy's current minesweeper fleet is due for decommissioning. "Kangnam has expressed interest," an official with the ministry of defence said. "They are very positive. The last date for submitting a response is May 10, and we expect Intermarine and another two shipyards to participate." 

The government issued an expression of interest on March 21 after earlier negotiations with Kangnam collapsed at the final stage due to financial concerns.

The construction of the first minesweeper at GSL was supposed to begin this month, and deliveries of all 12 minesweepers were to be completed by 2026. This schedule has been pushed back by at least two years, said Navy officials.