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HC seeks report on Haldia port unrest

Calcutta, Oct. 18: Calcutta High Court today directed the East Midnapore authorities to file reports by noon tomorrow stating whether they had received any complaint of labour unrest at the Haldia port from Haldia Bulk Terminals (HBT) or the port authorities.

Justice Dipankar Dutta asked the district magistrate, police superintendent and the officer in charge of Sutahata police station to tell the court what action they had taken on the basis of complaints, if any.

The order followed a petition by HBT alleging the 275 workers the company sacked and some manual labourers were not allowing work at the two mechanised berths (2 and 8) it operates at the Haldia port. The petition said the police had failed to provide HBT employees adequate security.

Appearing for HBT, lawyer Samaraditya Pal said: “The court should ask the government to direct the police to provide security.”

State government pleader Ashok Banerjee said the allegations were baseless. “Everything is peaceful there (Haldia port). HBT and the port authorities are trying to malign the government,” he alleged.

During a visit to Haldia earlier this month, Mamata Banerjee had said the situation at the port was under control.

HBT CEO Gurpreet Malhi said in a statement today that since the beginning of its operations in 2010, HBT had maintained a bloated workforce based on the assurance that the cargo volume allocated by CPT would increase.

“HBT cannot understand what restrained CPT from allocating more cargo. For two years, HBT has made numerous requests to CPT to improve the situation but in vain. CPT’s failure has left HBT with no option but to retrench 275 employees,” Malhi said.