Officers and various workers’ unions at Haldia Dock Complex (HDC), under the umbrella of Haldia Dock Bachao Committee, had written a letter to Manish Jain, chairman-incharge of Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT), about a month ago, warning him that the KoPT’s model on running berth no 4B at the HDC would cost it a loss of Rs. 32 crore per year.
The board of trustees of the KoPT, however, during its October 12 meeting, decided to apply the same model - modernisation through installation of mobile harbour cranes - at six other berths (5/6/7/9/10/13), too. For berth 4B, the KoPT has invited tender for 10 years’ operations.
“The ABG model being the most profitable model for HDC/ KoPT, the same model should be replicated while mechanising other berths of HDC. For example, while mechanising berth no 4B, ABG model should be followed for maximum realisation to the port,” reads the letter signed by two representatives each from Haldia Dock Officers’ Forum and trade unions affiliated to CITU, INTUC, AITUC and HMS. The letter, dated September 13, gives a detail of how KoPT is set to lose a huge amount should they go for modernisation of 4B berth only by means of installing mobile harbour cranes, instead of giving contract for integrated on-board-and-shore operations inviting global tenders, as done with ABG Haldia Bulk Terminals (HBT) on berth no two and eight.
According to the Haldia Dock Bachao Committee letter, the port earns (as per rates approved by the Tariff Authority for Major Ports (TAMP)) Rs. 38.38 for wharfage, Rs. 29.16 for on-board handling, Rs. 1.08 for cleaning, Rs. 52.00 for mobile harbour crane, Rs. 87.48 for on shore handling, Rs. 10 for heaping/high heaping and Rs. 9 for dispatch related services, per tonne. This makes the total earning Rs. 226.60 per tonne.
However, for KoPT’s planned model on berth 4B, the letter claimed, KoPT would earn Rs. 38.38 for wharfage, Rs. 29.16 for on-board handling, Rs. 1.08 for cleaning and Rs. 52 for mobile harbour crane, taking the total income to Rs. 121.12 per tonne. In this model, KoPT leaves the entire on-shore operations for private handling agents who are allegedly making huge profits without paying KoPT anything.
“We showed clearly that the KoPT would lose Rs. 106 per tonne should they implement this model at berth 4B. Given the proposed 3 lakh tonne of cargo per year to this berth, the lose would be Rs. 32 crore per year,” Kishore Chakraborty, secretary of National Union of Waterfront Workers (NUWW), affiliated to the Congress’ trade union wing INTUC, told HT on Sunday.
“KoPT would not benefit from this model. The private handling agents would be the prime beneficiary,” Phani Bhushan Chakraborty, a SUCI(C) leader and assistant general secretary of Kolkata Port Shramik Union, said.
Chakraborty added that this mechanisation by installing mobile harbour cranes would leave about 950 workers of the shipping and cargo-handling department at the HDC, who do the on-board operations, without any work.
“We did not oppose the mechanisation at berths two and eight as the Kolkata port was earning huge from those berths,” Chakraborty told HT.
The Haldia port had turned into a near battle zone lately.