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Voice of 2010 catches up

The following is a translated transcript of a tape obtained by news channel ABP Ananda, featuring a speech attributed to Trinamul Congress MP Subhendu Adhikari in March 2010. Adhikari, whose influence in Haldia has multiplied after the downfall of CPM strongman Lakshman Seth, had said on Tuesday that there was no problem in Haldia. Adhikari was not available for comment on Thursday despite repeated attempts by several reporters of this newspaper for hours. The Telegraph dissects the speech and tallies the content with what actually happened thereafter

 

 

THE SPEECH OF 2010

What I say is, how can jobs happen if ABG (the parent company of HBT) cannot enter? Whatever things they have brought — cranes, etc — we’ll bring them inside the port. They will have to stay outside the gates — I’m saying this as MP — because it has no locus standi at this moment.

The trustee board we have now, the (Calcutta) Port Trust’s trustee board — which is called the ‘trustee committee’ in English — its term ends on March 31. Till March 31, there will be no discussions on ABG in the current trustee (board). There will be a new trustee (board) after March 31. Just wait and see who is inducted there. We shall constitute the new trustee (board); our government (presumably the UPA-II) will constitute it. My representative(s) will be there... we shall constitute it. And in April, we shall put a ‘no’ on ABG’s extension petition.

You can rest assured. Be absolutely assured, since I have taken up the responsibility. I don’t believe in starting; I believe in finishing. When we started off in Nandigram, many were apprehensive about what the outcome might be. Have you seen the finishing? Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s 235 are at sixes and sevens.

I have started it for you; let me finish it.

BEFORE SPEECH

Relevant part in speech: The trustee board we have now… its term ends on March 31. Till March 31, there will be no discussions on ABG in the current trustee (board).

Status: The 21-member board of trustees of Calcutta Port Trust, which takes all the key decisions on the

Haldia port, had at least one member who could be said to be associated with the promoters of Ripley. A manual-handler that competes with HBT for cargo at Haldia, Ripley is owned by a family with close ties to Trinamul.

The member: Debasis Dutta, the Calcutta Customs House Agents’ Association. Dutta is also the treasurer of Mohun Bagan, whose president is Swapan Sadhan Bose (Tutu Bose), a promoter of Ripley and a former Trinamul Rajya Sabha MP. Bose’s son is a current MP in the Upper House

AFTER SPEECH

Relevant part in speech: There will be a new trustee (board) after March 31. Just wait and see who is inducted there. We shall constitute the new trustee (board); our government will constitute it. My representative(s) will be there... we shall constitute it.

Status: From at least one earlier, the number of members with some association with Ripley promoters rose to seven on the 2010-12 board. Trinamul leader Mukul Roy was the minister of state for shipping at the Centre in 2010.

  • Debasis Dutta

  • Ravi Todi, the Merchants’ Chamber of Commerce. The Todi family and the Boses had once jointly promoted AMRI Hospitals.

  • Ragam Kishore, the Indian Private Ports and Terminals Association. Kishore is also the CEO of Seaport, one of whose promoters is Ripley.

  • Bhaskar Basu, Pratidin Prakashani Ltd, a company from the same stable as Ripley.

  • Anjan Kumar Mitra, Mitra & Associates. Mitra is the secretary of Mohun Bagan, whose president is a Ripley owner.

  • Dipyendu Biswas of Alipore Police Court. A lawyer with informal contact with Ripley promoters, according to legal circles.

  • Sambu Nath Dutta, another lawyer with informal contact with Ripley promoters, according to legal circles.

On the subsequent 2012 board (it is recast every two years), five of the seven members mentioned above have found place. The Telegraph had reported on this on Tuesday.

AFTER SPEECH

Relevant part in speech: And in April, we shall put a ‘no’ on ABG’s extension petition.

Status: HBT was supposed to start handling cargo by December 2009. But a delay set in because of two reasons: customs clearance and unrest on the ground. The unseated and new powers in Haldia vied with each other to ensure jobs for their supporters — a compulsion that saddled HBT with a bloated workforce. The company’s equipment were stopped from entering Haldia town. The standoff prompted a case. HBT then sought an extension of the deadline.

The board of trustees was reconstituted eventually but the ‘no’ to extension — promised in the speech — was not delivered, probably because of contractual obligations and because HBT had by then moved in the equipment following legal intervention.

ON THE GROUND

January 2010: Labourers belonging to the Trinamul union at the Haldia docks stopped 50 dumpers of HBT.

March 2010: 37 dumpers at a garage in Haldia town were found immobilised with sand in their fuel tanks.

UNION’S RESPONSE

East Midnapore INTTUC working president Shibnath Sarkar said on Thursday: “In 2010, we were fighting for the interests of dock workers just as we are doing now. Actually, we were then protesting against ABG’s plans to retrench workers by mechanising cargo operations. Keeping the interests of the labourers in mind, Subhendu spoke like that.”

Compiled by our bureau