Launch a dharna in front of the gate of the office of the Gopalpur Ports Limited

Workers of old seasonal Gopalpur port have launched a dharna in front of the gate of the office of the Gopalpur Ports Limited (GPL). Members of Gopalpur Port Dock Workers’ Union and Gopalpur Port Mazdoor Union are taking part in the dharna. The agitating workers alleged that although the GPL has started cargo handling at the port, most of the workers of the erstwhile seasonal port have not got employment opportunity.

The agitators claim that out of 1970 workers of the old seasonal port, only 267 have been appointed by the GPL authorities.

They demanded all the remaining workers be provided identity cards with promise that they would be engaged in cargo handling work in future.

The other demands include preference to local educated youth during the appointment process of the GPL. The agitators have also wanted the administration to intervene and press the GPL authorities to dredge the old fishing channel in the area.

According to them, due to port construction work, the channel is no more fit for navigation of fishing boats, which has been affecting the livelihood marine fishermen of the area, according to W. Simadri, former president of Goplapur Port Mazdoor Union.

According to GPL authorities, the Goplapur port has not yet become fully operational. Out of its three berths only one is ready for cargo handling.

At present, cargo handling has been started at this berth on trial basis.

According to the GPL, once the port becomes fully operational more employment opportunity will be generated. All berths of the Gopalpur port are expected to be ready for cargo handling by December 2013.

The GPL has entered into an MoU with the State government to take over the seasonal anchorage port at Gopalpur and develop it into a major all weather port on Build-Operate-Own-Share-Transfer (BOOST) basis. In 1987, the State government established Gopalpur port as a seasonal anchorage port.

In 2006, the government handed over the port to the GPL. Since 2011, the GPL authorities stopped cargo handling at this seasonal anchorage port to facilitate construction work for the all weather port.

So, after a gap of almost two years the workers attached to the Gopalpur port are seeing employment opportunity again.