In a near repeat of Tata Motors’ claims on Nano relocation episode, a ABG-LDA-led cargo handler at Haldia Port today accused the West Bengal Government for failing to ensure minimum law and order at the “port and its surroundings”.

The company, which already expressed its intention of quitting from Haldia port, accused Kolkata Port Trust of suppressing the truth on law and order situation.

In a press release, the cargo handler – Haldia Bulk Terminals Pvt Ltd (HBT) – said four of its employees were seriously injured by a violent mob on Friday. Also the company officials and employees are subjected to threats of dire consequences.

A claim by KoPT to ensure security was also set aside by HBT citing the previous incidences of violence.

Making fervent appeals to the State administration, KoPT and Central Industrial Security Forces (CISF) to restore peace and normalcy, Gurpreet Malhi, HBT CEO, cautioned that “if this situation were to continue, not only would Haldia be deemed as a place where law and order do not apply, but it would also be severely detrimental to each and every users of port.. as well as the entire State.”

Vested Interest

Although HBT did not name anybody in its statement, sources suggest that the company has been at loggerheads primarily with the ruling Trinamool Congress-backed trade union. The company, in a previous release claimed that it had been forced to absorb 1,000 people as against the requirement of 350 people while starting operations in 2010.

In August, HBT claimed that its operations turned unviable because of high costs vis-à-vis lower cargo offerings than estimated. While KoPT tried to settle the issue by diverting more cargo to the HBT operated berths (Berths 2 and 8); the initiative went against the interests of other operators at the port and local political strongholds.

ayan.pramnik@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on September 28, 2012)
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