Kolkata

Board clears tendering for shore handling works

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The Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT) Board approved tendering for shore handling work at Haldia Port despite unexplained opposition by a section of Trustee Board members. Similar process are set to follow at major ports of India. Earlier, the Shipping Ministry instructed the KoPT to float “proper tenders” and invite bids to enhance earning of the authority as per Major Port Trust Act of 1963.

In June, the Ministry’s vigilance wing had written to the ports raising questions on the alleged loss of thousands of crores following the arbitrary appointment of cargo-handlers. A week after The Hindu reported on the issue, the Ministry has sought to initiate an auction process to collect royalty. The letter was issued only after the KoPT sought permission to levy “royalty/user fees on cargo handling agents in Haldia Dock Complex”. However, the process of levying fee and appointment of the agents was later questioned by Gujarat M.P. Mansukhbhai Vasava of the BJP. Mr. Vasava had alleged earlier in a letter to the PMO that flawed tendering and appointments of cargo handling agents in the shore over several years had cost the country’s port authorities Rs. 8 lakh crore.

A few crucial decisions, defined as “historic” by a group of whistleblowers of the KoPT, were taken in today’s meeting by the Board of Trustees. A minimum ‘ceiling rate’ – the rate at which the cargo handlers would deliver services – Rs. 119.48 per metric tonne has been fixed. If none of the bidders show any interest an open tender would be floated. Besides, a minimum revenue to be shared with the Port Authority was fixed at Rs. 13 for each metric tonne.

Additionally measures were initiated to reduce the “cost of trade”. Ceiling Rate based on operator's cost to be approved and notified by Tariff Authority of Major Ports (TAMP) shortly as per Section 42 (4) of MPT Act, 1963 and Regulation 7 of TAMP Guidelines of 2005. With this, the maximum cost to trade will come down further by at least 20-30 rupees per metric tonnne, experts feel. Present Cost to trade at Haldia port varies between 250 to 300 for each MT.

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2020 7:49:35 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kolkata/board-clears-tendering-for-shore-handling-works/article6227946.ece

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