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Wednesday, Feb 25, 2004

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Govt okays restructuring of officer cadres in major ports

Santanu Sanyal

Haldia , Feb. 24

THE Union Government has approved the restructuring of the officer cadres in major ports and docks.

Giving this information here on Monday, Mr Shatrughan Sinha, Union Shipping Minister, expressed the hope that all port authorities concerned would now take appropriate steps for its implementation.

He particularly urged the Chairman of Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT) to do the needful for Haldia dock officers.

A spokesman for the Haldia dock said that the issue of restructuring of officer cadres in port and docks had been pending since 1996. Following the Government approval, the transfer of port officers from one port to another would now become much easier. Also, the number of general managers in Haldia dock would rise to five from the present two.

Mr Sinha, while inaugurating the new 4A berth at the local dock complex, said that the Union Government was fully aware of the problems facing the dock and it is in the process of taking various measures to tackle them. He, however, made it clear that the Indian Oil Corporation was firm in its decision to construct Paradip-Haldia crude pipeline and his meeting with Petroleum Minister did not change that decision.

Haldia dock, therefore, had to explore new opportunities for attracting cargo to make up for the probable loss of crude traffic. He also listed the various measures taken by his Ministry in past one year to improve port and shipping operations, coastal shipping and inland water transportation in the country. The performance of the Shipping Corporation of India and the Dredging Corporation of India under the Ministry too had been spectacular, he added.

Earlier, Mr Laxman Seth, till recently the CPI (M) MP from the local area, drew the attention of the Shipping Minister to the problem of navigability in the Hooghly river affecting the Haldia dock and urged him to immediately start the dredging work. He also emphasised that Haldia dock authorities should spend at least one to two per cent of its revenue to improve the infrastructure of the town. "The improvement will help attract more traffic to the dock," he said. Complimenting the Prime Minister for announcing the Sagarmala project, Mr Seth pointed out that the measures to be taken to improve the port and river systems in West Bengal were not yet clear. He himself had mooted certain proposals in this regard.

Dr A.K. Chanda, Chairman of KoPT, said the issue of improving navigability of the Hooghly river had been incorporated in the Sagarmala project.

Mr Subhas Chakraborty, West Bengal Transport Minister, urged the Centre to extend the hands of cooperation for all around development, indicating that the role of the Railways in this regard left much to be desired.

Earlier, Mr M.L. Meena, Deputy Chairman of KoPT in charge of Haldia dock, in his welcome address, referred to the problem of navigability in the Hooghly river. Mr M.V. Varghese, CEO of International Seaport (Haldia) Private Ltd, the company that constructed the berth on BOT basis, stated that the berth was geared to handle more than three million tonnes of imported coking coal annually.

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