|M.L. Meena in Calcutta
on Monday. Picture by
Kishor Roy Chowdhury
Calcutta, Aug. 29: The Calcutta Port Trust (CPT) has requested the Centre to continue with the annual dredging subsidy of Rs 350 crore till it completes three projects.
CPT chairman M.L. Meena today said they expected the projects — transloading at western Sandheads and new ports at Haldia and Diamond Harbour — to shore up the ports revenues and reduce dependence on facilities that relied on dredging.
I am hopeful that these facilities will be ready in the next three years. I have requested the government to continue with the dredging subsidy till then, Meena said.
The ministry of finance as well as the Planning Commission had in the past raised serious objections to the subsidy and even questioned if a port should continue to operate while causing such a drain to the national exchequer.
Calcutta and Haldia, part of the CPT, are both riverine ports located on the banks of the Hooghly in Bengal. The CPT dredges 20 million cubic meters of silt every year so that big ships can come. Even then, average draft for Haldia has declined to 7 meters from 9 meters in the last five years.
The CPT is planning to handle large vessels at western Sandheads and then bring the cargo to Haldia and Calcutta by smaller ships and barges. However, the Orissa government has challenged the ports move in courts.
This is the most important step for CPTs future existence and Bengals industry, Meena said.
The transloading facility will be operated by private operators on a public-private partnership mode. The Shipping Corporation of India, Gammon and Adani have shown interest in the project.
The CPT plans to use the same model to build a Rs 1,600-crore bulk cargo terminal at Salukkhali near Haldia and a Rs 2,000-crore container terminal at Diamond Harbour. Adani, GMR and Mundra are among the nine that showed interest for Haldia.
Meanwhile, the CPT posted an over six times rise in net surplus at Rs 114 crore in 2010-11.