Logistics

Revival of an old turf war

Santanu Sanyal Kolkata | Updated on February 02, 2011




The dispute over who will control Kanika Sands off Orissa coast is not new. It has been raging for the past few years, ever since the then Chairman of Kolkata Port Trust, Dr Anup K. Chanda, initiated the transloading move.

Dr Chanda stirred up a hornets' nest by declaring to undertake transloading operations at Kanika Sands. The essence of transloading operation is this: Large bulk-carriers with full load, unable to call at Kolkata/Haldia due to the poor navigability of the Hooghly river, will berth at Kanika Sands, an island offering deep drafts, and transfer the cargo into barges or smaller vessels for second round of discharge at Kolkata/Haldia , a practice followed in many ports in the world.

Dr Chanda's argument was simple: the international water is open to everybody and no particular State can stake claim to it. After all, what Kolkata port intended to do was in the country's interests, not in the interest of any particular industrial group.

But the Orissa Government was in a fix, understandably so. First, the local sentiment against such a move by Kolkata port was strong.

More importantly, the concessional agreement with Dhamra Port Company Pvt Ltd, a joint venture between Tata Steel and L&T, provided that the State government would not allow any other port-related cargo handling facility within a radius of 25 km of Dhamra port. Kanika Sands falls within 25 km.

The Orissa government, therefore, did not send its Chief Secretary to as many as half a dozen meetings convened by the then Shipping Secretary to sort out the issue.

Incidentally, Essel Mining belonging to A V Birla Group too is planning a port at Basudebpur, close to the mouth of Chudamani river in Orissa and the proposed location will violate the 25-km radius norm. The Orissa government is, however, not raising much hue and cry about it, arguing that the proposed Chudamani port will be a private captive port, lending credence to criticism that the State government is batting for private ports.

Published on February 02, 2011

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