There was no truth in the allegations levelled against Gangavaram Port Ltd (GPL) regarding the proposed 15-year contract with Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd. (Visakhapatnam Steel Plant) for cargo-handling and a smear campaign was launched against GPL, the Chief Financial Officer of GPL, Pranav Chaudhury, said on Friday.
Talking to media persons, he refuted the allegations levelled against GPL and said that the company was ready to face any inquiry, including one by the CBI, as demanded by its critics to bring out the facts.
Located in the backyard of RINL, GPL was the most modern port in the country capable of handling cape size vessels due to its deep draft and offered tremendous advantage to RINL in terms of ocean freight which costs only $15 to import a tonne of coking coal from Australia through GPL against about $30 incurred to reach Visakhapatnam Port Trust (VPT).
Besides, RINL could save substantially on rail freight as the modern mechanised handling facilities at GPL enable it to directly feed coal into the blast furnace through the conveyor belt, he said.
GPL had other advantages as well as it offered berthing priority to RINL vessels along with eight million tonnes of free storage space which would bring down inventory costs and result in savings. Despite such obvious cost advantages, certain vested interests were trying to mislead the public by stating that the handling costs at GPL were higher than at VPT. Though GPL charged Rs. 70 per tonne more than VPT, it was justified because of the modern handling systems. However, the overall landing cost to RINL worked out to be much cheaper, he argued.
Mr. Chaudhury also said that there was nothing wrong in signing a 15-year contract, as there was a clear exit option for RINL at any time during the contract period should it be proved that it was cheaper to handle cargo at any other port than GPL.
On the controversy triggered by the resignation of the independent director of RINL, Jagatpal, over the issue, he said “the manner in which he resigned and leaked distorted information to the press leaves us with a question mark over his intentions.”
With RINL in expansion mode, GPL in its backyard provided a great advantage as it was necessary for the former to import coking coal and other materials at least cost, he said.
GPL's Director, Commercial, Sanjay Gupta, was present.