Calcutta, Jan. 3: International SeaPorts Haldia Pvt Ltd (ISHPL), part owned by Ripley & Co, has emerged as the lowest bidder to run mechanised operations at the two controversial berths at Haldia.
ISHPL has beaten a consortium led by Orissa Stevedors Ltd (OSL) for a 10-year contract to put up mobile harbour cranes at berths 2 and 8, left vacant by Haldia Bulk Terminals after a tumultuous time in November 2012.
The company quoted an average Rs 212 a tonne to carry out both onboard and onshore handling of bulk cargo such as coal and iron ore.
OSL quoted around Rs 217 a tonne. Initially, eight companies, including Adani, had shown interest.
This is the third time Calcutta Port Trust, which oversees port operations at Haldia and Calcutta, has issued a tender to find a replacement for HBT, which left the work blaming law and order concerns induced by political patronage and apathy from both the port and local administration.
CPT had cancelled the tenders on the previous two occasion, claiming the price quotes were too high.
In 2013, a consortium led by OSL, which has a sizeable presence in Paradip Port, offered to handle cargo for Rs 171 a tonne.
OSL went to court against CPT and the matter is pending at Calcutta High Court.
Internally, CPT had worked out that cargo handling charge should not exceed Rs 125 a tonne.
However, port officials have realised that there is a need to upwardly review the price. HBT used to charge Rs 75 a tonne.
It remains to be seen if the port awards the contract this time after spurning a lower offer.
A senior CPT official said the lowest bidder would be called for a discussion on the price.
“This time we want to give the contract. But the rates are high. Let us see if it comes down to our expectation,” the official said.
He, however, defended the decision of not giving the contract to OSL previously, saying diesel and dollar have become costlier.
ISHPL is a three-way joint venture of Ripley & Co, Precious Shipping of Bangkok and L&T.
Ripley, owned by the family of former Trinamul Congress MP Swapan Sadhan (Tutu) Bose, was blamed by HBT for its exit.