Private operator plans to move court against Kolkata port

Last Updated: Mon, Oct 15, 2012 13:20 hrs

Kolkata, Oct 15 (IANS) A private port equipment operator at the labour unrest-hit Haldia Dock Complex is planning to move the Calcutta High Court Tuesday against the of the Kolkata Port Trust for "failing to provide safe environment" for its operations.

"Yes, we are planning to move the Calcutta High Court tomorrow (Tuesday) as both the Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT) and the state government are not providing us with a safe environment for operating at berth 2 and 8," Haldia Bulk Terminal Pvt. Ltd. (HBT) CEO Gurpreet Malhi told IANS.

The two berths at Haldia were operated by HBT, a joint venture between Mumbai-based ABG and French firm LDA.

Blaming the deteriorating law and order situation at the dock, HBT has suspended operations at the two berths for over a fortnight now.

KoPT's board of trustees met last Friday and gave HBT a Oct 19 deadline to restart operations.

Meanwhile, a decision of the KoPT to appoint handling operators to operate at the two berths, where about one lakh tonnes of cargo has been stationed due to the stalemate, has also sparked off a recent controversy.

According to the port sources, the board of trustees Oct 12 "cleared and approved" the tender, floated the previous day, for clearing the stored cargo at the two berths.

Dubbing the tender as "illegal", Malhi said: "The tender was awarded at a much higher price than our quoted price."

According to a senior port official, the tender was awarded to the lowest bidder at Rs.27 per tonne of cargo.

Haldia Dock Complex handles an average 14 million tonnes (mt) of dry bulk cargo annually, of which HBT handles 5 mt.

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