Santanu Sanyal

Kolkata, Dec 24

The container feeder operators serving Kolkata port (both Kolkata Dock System and the Haldia dock) have slapped trade surcharges in view of the decline in the draft in the Hooghly river.

The rates are $150/ TEU and $300/ FEU.

river draft

The argument is that they have to recover the losses suffered by them due to the drop in the loadability of the vessels caused by the deterioration in the river draft.

Congestion

It is pointed out that despite removal of “Tiger Spring”, the container vessel that was grounded in the river a few weeks ago, and its anchoring at the Diamond Harbour, the original navigable channel has not yet become operational and ship movement to and from KDS is taking place along the alternate channel where 30 cm draft cut applies.

At Haldia, the average congestion is three days, with some lines experiencing up to seven days.

Chairman reaction

Reacting sharply to the imposition of surcharge, Mr M.L. Meena, Chairman, Kolkata Port Trust, said the argument in support of the imposts were untenable.

“This is not acceptable and I've taken up strongly with the shipping lines”, Mr Meena told Business Line, pointing out some feeder operators had already heeded to his request to withdraw the surcharges.

Routine

There was nothing unusual about the decline in the river draft during this time of the year.

“This happens every year during this time and continues till the middle of February”, he observed.

The imposition of surcharge for Haldia dock was even more unjustified as the dock was not afflicted with the kind of draft problem being witnessed for shipment to and from KDS, he added.

Meanwhile, Eastern India Shippers Association has advised its members not to pay the surcharge as the KoPT Chairman is taking up the matter with the shipping lines.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated December 25, 2010)
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