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Sinha boost to ports

Haldia, July 12: The Haldia and Calcutta ports will not be neglected and the Centre will not spare any effort to improve them, Union shipping minister Shatrughan Sinha said here today.

Sinha, who attended a function to mark an ISO 9002 certification for this dock complex, said: “Haldia should try and maintain its standards and improve to cater to global needs. It has already handled 10 per cent more cargo this year and more should be achieved.”

The minister also said Rs 350 crore was allotted for dredging operations but the authorities at the Haldia Dock Complex have not been able to utilise the amount. “We are awaiting a report being prepared on the impact that the dredging will have on the navigable channels of the Hooghly. Once the National Institute of Maritime Research submits its finding next month, we can begin the work,” he said.

Local MP Lakshman Seth alleged that the Dredging Corporation of India, whose vessels are old and equipment out-dated, is wasting funds. “The DCI dredgers have no impact in improving the navigability of the river, especially close to the Sandheads, and dump the silt back into the river,” Seth said.

He also pointed out that the Indian Oil Corporation’s move to have a pipeline from Paradip in Andhra Pradesh to transport crude for its Haldia refinery would be harmful for the port.

But IOC sources said the proposal was sent to their head office as large crude carriers had stopped coming to Haldia due to insufficient depth and smaller vessels were being used to off-load the crude.

Deputy chairman of the Haldia Dock Complex M.L. Meena said the port had achieved a 28 per cent growth in cargo handling during 2002-2003 and the ratio of growth was 12.5 per cent, which was above the national average of 5.2 per cent. “We are trying to achieve constant improvement, cost optimisation and resource management to improve the port,” Meena added.

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