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Court sets deadline for port PIL reply

Cuttack, July 19: Orissa High Court today allowed three more weeks to the central government to file a reply to a PIL challenging the revised limit of Calcutta Port that extends well into the Orissa territory.

The two-judge bench of Chief Justice V. Gopala Gowda and Justice B.N. Mohapatra set the fresh deadline after the central government counsel sought time for filing a counter affidavit and extended the interim order till the next hearing n the PIL.

Earlier, the high court had, on May 5, issued notices to the central government and Calcutta Port Trust. “In the meanwhile, the secretary department of shipping and Calcutta Port Trust are directed not to precipitate in the matter,” the court said in an interim order.

The notices were issued on the PIL, which sought quashing of the November 19, 2010 notification allowing Calcutta Port Trust to extend its limit into the already notified limits of Bichitrapur, Subarnarekha mouth, Bahabalpur, Inchudi, Chandipur, Chudamani and Dhamra ports of Orissa. Keonjhar Nava Nirman Parishad (KNNP) secretary Dillip Kumar Mohapatra had filed a PIL.

Meanwhile, the Orissa government in an affidavit, had contended that extension of Calcutta Port limits to distances way beyond its own vicinity “infringing into” notified limits of other ports in another state has led to “a very peculiar and unusual situation”.

“A ship entering the port of Dhamra, which is 200 km south of Calcutta, shall be required to pay port dues and pilot fees to Calcutta Port whose services it does not require at all,” the affidavit alleged. Commerce and transport department additional secretary, Sitanath Rath, had in the affidavit alleged that CPT had gone ahead with pre-bid meeting in connection with construction of a jetty for cargo through trans-loading in the extended port limits “violating all norms”.

Referring to ministry of shipping’s contention in a media release that the extension of Calcutta port limits was merely for the purpose of undertaking trans-loading operation as its inadequate draft or depth does not permit larger vessels, the Orissa government said: “It is not a new problem”.

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