Protest action centre opened at Thoppumpady by people in West Kochi and Palluruthy

The Cochin Port Trust Joint Trade Union Forum, a combine of trade unions at the Port Trust, has sought immediate government intervention to save the port operator from going bankrupt.

To highlight its demand, a protest action centre is being opened at Thoppumpady on Tuesday by people in West Kochi and Palluruthy as a measure of their solidarity with the port employees who are now on a relay hunger strike before the port office on Willingdon Island.

Top on the list of demands by the port employees is that the Union government should pay for maintenance dredging now undertaken by Cochin Port Trust for the International Container Transhipment Terminal (ICTT). Since ICTT was a national-level facility, the Centre should immediately come forward to foot the bill for maintenance dredging, said B. Hamsa, the general convenor of the forum at a press conference here on Monday.

The port unions have also demanded that the Union government should write off the Rs. 730 crore penal interest on a total loan amount of Rs. 2,58 crore, which the port has availed since 1937. These loans had been drawn for developmental activities at the port, Mr. Hamsa said.

The Port Trust spent Rs. 400 crore on maintenance dredging after the ICTT was commissioned. The money should be returned to the Port Trust, said the trade union leaders.

The port unions have also demanded that the port authority should re-examine some of the unfavourable clauses in the agreement with container terminal operator.

Another demand raised by the port unions is that new projects should be implemented to bring business back to Willingdon Island after the container operations were shifted to Vallarpadam Island.

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