After lambasting the CPI(M) for using strong-arm tactics to drive away investors from Bengal, the ruling Trinamool Congress seems to be resorting to the same methods.
Haldia Bulk Terminals (HBT), on Sunday, alleged that all its three top management officials and two of their family members were abducted to thwart the Mumbai-based operator from resuming operations at its two berths at the port. They were later released with the warning that they should not return to Haldia.
An HBT statement said three officials — Manpreet Jolly, Jagadish Behara and Bushan Patil, including his wife and 1-yearold daughter — were abducted at 1am on Sunday by 50 unidentified people. The company said they were released later in the day after being “threatened that they should not set foot again in Haldia”.
Gurpreet Malhi, CEO of HBT, a joint venture between Mumbaibased ABG and French firm LDA, said on Sunday, “Vested interests do not want HBT’s operations to resume even though it is in the interests of the state, industry, trade, the Kolkata Port Trust and Haldia dock itself.”
The incident has made resumption of cargo handling at the Haldia dock complex by the company uncertain. HBT had suspended operations at the port on September 22 because of law and order problems.
State Congress chief Pradip Bhattacharya said, “What Trinamool did in Singur as an opposition party, it is now doing at Haldia with more brazenness as the ruling party. No industrialist will come into Bengal if such lawlessness continue.”
Industries minister Partha Chatterjee refused to comment, saying Adhikari — who is spearheading the war against HBT — would be in a better position to do so. Adhikari, however, did not take any calls from While some landlosers in Singur had threatened Tata Motors officials with dire consequences, no one was abducted.
Mamata Banerjee during her trip to Haldia on October 9 said everything was normal at HDC.
Outraged with the Trinamool’s effort to thwart HBT in Haldia, a number of senior HDC officials told HT that the incident marked the crescendo of an orchestrated effort that began as soon as HBT won the tender for working at berths two and eight of HDC.
The HBT model, introduced in 2009 for the port’s own survival, was to be replicated at other berths. The port was suffering for bad finances. Now it’s a mega success, but several vested interest groups are trying to destroy it,” a senior official said. Due to low draft, Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT), under which HDC operates, had a net surplus of Rs. 432.50 crore in 2007-08 was, Rs. 194.11 crore in 2008-09 and Rs. 116.58 crore in 2009-10. However, the profit increased to Rs. 187.40 crore in 2010-11, when HBT started operations. Port earns about Rs. 30 lakh/day from each of HBT’s berths and about Rs. 4 lakh/day from the non-mechanised berths.