The Centre for Industrial Trade Unions (CITU) and the United Port and Dock Employees Union came down heavily upon the Union government and the Visakhapatnam Port Trust (VPT) management for going on a privatisation spree.

UPDEU general secretary V. S. Padmanabha Raju described the proposal to privatise Ore Handling Complex in the VPT as a severe blow . Already 16 out of 26 cargo berths in the VPT had been privatised under public-private partnership (PPP).

Addressing a meeting of trade union leaders here on Monday, Raju expressed anguish at the sordid state of affairs in the reputed port which occupied a predominant position for several years. The same had during past couple of years declined to second and currently third position in the country among 11 major ports on the cargo handling front.

Decline in cargo

Eighteen million tonnes of cargo had been diverted from the VPT to Gangavaram Port, causing a decline in the cargo traffic and the ultimate downfall of the port from its pre-eminent position.

The VPT management he said had committed itself to outsource all its berth operations to private parties and reduce the same to a Land Lord Port, merely controlling its properties.

Security wise too it was not an intelligent decision to transfer port operations to private parties as terrorists were taking the sea route to gain entry into the country, UPDEU general secretary opined.

CITU leaders Ajay Sarma, M. Jaggunaidu and B. Mahesh, INTUC leader Boddu Pydiraju, AICTU secretary G. M. Reddy who participated in the meeting spoke described VPT as the icon of the city and people’s property. It cannot be put into private hands.

Privatisation meant depriving the working class belonging to the downtrodden of social justice.

The meeting decided to meet District Collector V. Seshadri on April 3 and submit a memorandum to him. If no positive response is forthcoming the trade unions would resort to direct action, the union leaders warned.