ABG-Kolkata Port tussle headed for arbitration

Last Updated: Fri, Dec 07, 2012 07:42 hrs

pThe Kolkata Port Trust KoPT and Haldia Bulk Terminal HBT tussle is heading for arbitration KoPT is in the process of assessing the cost of damage caused due to the exit of ABG Haldia Bulk Terminal a senior official told Business StandardppIn November the port authorities had encashed the bank guarantee of Rs 4 crore provided by ABG at the time of signing the contract Earlier they had disallowed ABG and its partner Louis Dreyfus to remove equipment worth Rs 140 crore including six cranes 50 dumpers 26 loaders and waybridges out of HaldiappAccusing the company of abandoning the project KoPT has taken the stand that the contract has not been terminated and still stands &ldquoWe want the company to start the project Instead they retrenched their workers and decided to stop work&rdquo said a senior port official He added that although the company has given a termination notice ABG&rsquos petition to be allowed to resume work at Haldia is pending in the High Courtpptable width400 cellpadding2 tbody tr height20 styleheight 15pt td width774 height1 bgcolor95acb3font size2 faceTahoma colorffffffstrongUNFINISHED BUSINESSstrongfonttd tr tr height20 styleheight 15pt td width774 height1 bgcolorccd7dd ul lifont size2 faceTahomaABG and Louis Dreyfus Armateurs wanted to evacuate their equipment from Haldia port after giving termination notice on October 31span stylemso-spacerun yes spanfontli lifont size2 faceTahomaLouis Dreyfus on November 15 sought French government help to intervene and facilitate a safe exitspan stylemso-spacerun yes spanfontli lifont size2 faceTahomaKolkata Port Trust did not allow the company to take equipment since contract had not been terminated by itspan stylemso-spacerun yes spanfontli lifont size2 faceTahomaIn early November the port encashed a Rs 4-crore bank guarantee given by the companyspan stylemso-spacerun yes spanfontli lifont size2 faceTahomaPort authorities decided to seek compensation from the company for abandoning workspan stylemso-spacerun yes spanfontli lifont size2 faceTahomaDamage cost assessment by Kolkata Port underwayfontli ul td tr tbodytableppHBT a joint venture between home-grown ABG Infralogistics and French Louis Dreyfus Armateurs had pulled out of a 10-year contract for cargo handling operations at berth number 2 and 8 of the Haldia Dock Complex HDC blaming political climate and &ldquovested interests&rdquo by the authorities on October 28ppFrench major Louis Dreyfus Armateurs LDA has now approached the French government and also the country&rsquos trade and commerce department to facilitate safe passage of its equipmentppWhile the tussle over Haldia is expected to get prolonged ABG is close to winning the bid for a container handling berth at Kolkata Port leaving the officials miffed &ldquoIf ABG had a problem with the port authorities then why is it keen to bid for another project at the same port&rdquo the official asked According to sources ABG-LDA has emerged as the lowest bidder for container handling at berth number 5 of Netaji Subhas Dock under the Kolkata Dock SystemppThe problem at Haldia started early September when HBT citing unviability planned to suspend its operations and after a court intervention had to enter into a deal with KoPT which ensured them more cargo After this HBT retrenched about 275 workers which led to violent protests HBT decided to pull out of the contract alleging abduction of three of its officials including the family of one employee on October 28ppA three-member fact-finding team set up by the Union shipping ministry visited the Kolkata Port recently it is expected to file its report soon Among other things it will pin down the problem areas to avoid such incidents in futurep

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