Marathon meeting fails to break Haldia dock logjam
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The impasse at Haldia Dock Complex (HDC) that began last month over cargo handling refuses to end with the crucial meeting of the stakeholders, including Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT) and Haldia Bulk Terminals, remaining inconclusive on Thursday.
It was, however, agreed to constitute a nine-member committee comprising officials of various stakeholders including members of Haldia Bulk Terminals Officers Association, the KOPT officials and others to overcome the current impasse. "Every stakeholder wants to resolve the complex situation prevailing at HDC for the last one month. A nine-member panel has been formed with representatives from ABG, KoPT and other handling agents to chalk out a solution. The panel is expected to submit its report within a week," KoPT chairman Manish Jain told a press conference in Kolkata.
Among others, the trade unions CITU, AITUC, INTTUC and INTUC were present at the meeting.
At the centre of the row is the amount of cargo each operating agent would handle in the 14 berths of the HDC.
While Haldia Bulk Terminals (HBT), a joint venture of ABG Infralogistics and French Louis Dreyfus Armatuers, is sticking to its demand that it would need at least nine million tonnes of cargo to sustainably operate at the port, other cargo handling agents like Repley & Co and Five Star Shipping Agency say that the diverting such a large amount of cargo to one operator will hamper others' business interests.
Recently, HBT retrenched 275 workers from its rolls on grounds that the amount of cargo handled by it was not sufficient. At present, it is left with 351 workers.
The dock handles an average 14 million tonnes of dry bulk cargo a year of which HBT handles 5 million tonnes. With HBT operating two mechanised berths — number 2 and number 8 — with a capacity 300 times more than other operators, it has demanded nine million tonnes — an additional 4 million tonnes — of cargo from the port authorities.
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