New forum seeks rejuvenating business on Willingdon Island in Kochi

The newly-formed Thuramugha Samrakshana Samithi, a combination of trade unions cutting across political parties, has called for rejuvenating business on the Willingdon Island with a view to augmenting the income for ports even as the port authority is straddled with the burden of spending a substantial sum on maintenance dredging for the shipping channel.

C.D. Nandakumar of Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) and one of the founders of the Samithi, headed by the Kochi Mayor, said on Monday that the only way forward for the Cochin Port Trust was to utilise its vast land holding for commercial activities that would cater to the growing needs in areas such as hospitality industry. The port could also utilise its land resources for establishing industrial parks, godown complexes and tourism centres that could attract investments in various areas.

According to the Samithi, multinational corporations had cornered the benefits of operating the container terminals at major ports across the country, including in Kochi. The governments had made huge investments for such facilities. Even maintenance dredging in Kochi is being done at the expense of the Cochin Port Trust.

The continuous expense in maintenance dredging and concessions being offered by the Port Trust to attract vessels to the container terminal have turned out to be a big burden on the port’s financial operations. Mr. Nandakumar said the port authority would be spending around ₹122 crore during 2021-22 for dredging operations to maintain the required depth of the shipping channel.

The trade unions are also of the opinion that the closure of the Rajiv Gandhi Container terminal, previously operated by the Cochin Port Trust, had turned out to be a big setback for the port.

The Cochin Port Trust had entered into an agreement with a private container terminal operator in January 2005 to hand over the Rajiv Gandhi terminal. The terminal was then handed over to the company for operations in April of the same year. Later, in April 2011, the operation of the Vallarpadam terminal was launched.

The trade unions have pointed out that the minimum guarantee throughput and income for the port have not been included in the licence agreement between the Cochin Port Trust and the private company operating the container transshipment terminal.

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Printable version | Oct 28, 2021 8:32:37 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/new-forum-seeks-rejuvenating-business-on-willingdon-island-in-kochi/article36573692.ece

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