Calcutta, Sept. 12: The Centre today assured over Rs 400 crore to improve cargo handling activities of Haldia port and road links to Netaji Subhas Dock in Calcutta.
Union minister for surface transport and shipping T.R. Baalu said Delhi was also considering a proposal to set up full-fledged port facilities at Sagar, which will help improve the Calcutta Port Trust's cargo handling capacity.
After an hour-long meeting with chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee at Writers' Buildings this afternoon, Baalu announced the central bounty. 'I had an extensive discussion with the chief minister today and with senior officials of the state over the past two days, and many projects were finalised. The chief minister asked for road connectivity among other things and I conceded,' he told reporters.
Bhattacharjee later said: 'There were certain gaps in the facilities the Centre was offering. Today, they have agreed to all our demands.'
Funds to the tune of Rs 150 crore would be made available for two new jetties and two berths at Haldia, which would be completed by December 2006. The port now has 12 berths and three jetties.
The additional berths and jetties are expected to increase the port's cargo-handling capacity. Another Rs 40 crore would be provided for two 'rail-mounted quay cranes' ' a 'ship-to-shore-equipment' that help in lifting goods from ships and landing them on the jetties and berths. This money would be in by the end of this month.
The cranes, first such at the Haldia port, would mean faster movement of cargo and increased productivity.
Four rubber-tyred gantries ' handling equipment for containers ' would arrive by December. In addition, Rs 20 crore would be provided for container storage facilities and Rs 50 crore to acquire 2,500 acres that can be used to dump sand dredged from the riverbed. They are now dumped into the water.
'The facilities would benefit the port considerably as they will enable faster cargo handling,' a senior official said.
Baalu also promised funds for the improvement of roads from Kona Expressway to Vidyasagar Setu and from the bridge to the Calcutta port. In all, 14 km of roads would be built or widened, which would help in easy movement of vehicles to and from the port.
The Centre, the minister said, is exploring ways by which NH 34 can be connected to the Calcutta port.
'Sagar port would be the future of Calcutta,' he added. A preliminary study on the project is over and the feasibility report will now be taken up.