The Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT) on Thursday said it would claim at least around Rs 1,000 crore as compensation from Haldia Bulk Terminals (HBT) for “wrongfully abandoning” contractual obligation of handling dry bulk cargo at the Haldia port.

Manish Jain, acting Chairman of KoPT, said the port would also go in for a re-tender of the cargo handling operations at berths 2 and 8.

Terming HBT’s actions as “illegal” and an “arbitrary” abandonment of its contractual obligation under the agreement, KoPT decided to “terminate” the 10-year deal.

Jain said the port has served a notice to HBT to “encash” a performance guarantee amounting to Rs 4 crore.

The board of trustees has decided to take legal action claiming compensation for financial losses that it will suffer for the remaining seven years (up to 2020) under the contract.

Fresh bids

Jain said the claim could be around Rs 1,000 crore.

KoPT on Friday said it would seek fresh bids for the operations at the two berths with a view to appointing a new contractor.

KoPT is expected to issue a letter of intent to the successful bidder by December; both the berths should be back in operation by March.

Panel’s suggestions

The KoPT Board has authorised the management to blacklist HBT. Jain indicated that ABG, the co-promoter of HBT, might also face blacklisting.

Apart from the ongoing legal battle in the Calcutta High Court, KoPT will also initiate arbitration proceedings.

Jain told Business Line that the 2.7 lakh tonnes of cargo stranded at the berths would soon be evacuated through logistics service outfits. The Port authority has already evacuated some 80,000 tonnes through J. M. Baxi & Co, to various land destinations. For the delivery of the remaining cargo, lying in the storage area at Berth Nos. 2 and 8, KoPT would go in for a tender.

Meanwhile, a KoPT committee has recommended ways to negotiate Eden Channel, an alternative route to Haldia port along the Hooghly river during “foul weather”.

Among the key suggestions, the panel has suggested that the pilots could board the vessel at Paradip and bring the vessels to Haldia through the Eden channel. In choppy weather (April-September), boarding the vessel by pilots at Sand Heads has been difficult.

jayanta.mallick@thehindu.co.in

ayan.pramanik@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on November 8, 2012)
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