At a time when the decision of ABG Haldia Bulk Terminal (HBT) to retrench excess workers has become a flashpoint in Haldia Dock Complex (HDC), a senior member of the Planning Commission (PC), on Friday, strongly advocated increased mechanisation of cargo handling facilities at all ports, including Haldia, to sustain growth.
Manoj Singh, member (Transport) of Planning Commission, said that mechanisation was an absolutely necessity for development of the Haldia port. "Unfortunately, some people are creating obstructions in the way of this process. But it needs to be kept in mind that ports have to mechanise their operations in order to survive," Singh said on the sidelines of a seminar on 'Look East Policy - Wake Up Call for Ports and Industries.' The Bengal Chamber of Commerce had organised the seminar.
Echoing Singh, the director general of Bengal Chamber of Commerce, P Roy, said that mechanisation of ports was "unavoidable". "One must remember that growth is vital and for that there must be mechanisation of cargo handling facilities. Excess and retrenched workers can be absorbed at a later stage provided there is growth," Roy said.
Meanwhile, the Bengal Chamber of Commerce has written to Union shipping minister GK Vasan requesting him to intervene in the ongoing crisis at Haldia Dock Complex. According to the chamber, the Haldia port is the lifeline of industry and trade in this part of the country, especially for export and import trade and, therefore, the crisis has to be resolved on an emergency basis.
The industry fraternity had been critical of political interference in port matters and the state government's lackadaisical approach in controlling the issue since the inception of the Haldia Dock Complex. The investor fraternity also sought strong intervention by the state government in resolving the crisis and claimed that recent developments at the port would malign the state's image as an investment destination.
Leading industry body Assocham even wrote to the chief minister and asked her to form an independent committee to probe the entire crisis at Haldia. Assocham said that the government should send a strong message that they are really serious about protecting the interests of the investors. At the same time, Assocham observed that ABG's decision to withdraw from Haldia was taken in haste.