The Telegraph
Friday , November 9 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Tatas to the rescue at Haldia port

Calcutta, Nov. 8: The Calcutta Port Trust (CPT) has found a lifeline in a Tata firm to tide itself over the challenges thrown up by the Haldia port mess.

TM International Logistics Ltd (TMILL), a Tata Steel subsidiary, has responded positively to the CPT’s request for a crane on hire to handle ships of the kind Haldia Bulk Terminals (HBT) managed till it suspended operations.

TMILL already operates one berth at the Haldia port and such a gesture should not have drawn too much attention.

But the new Bengal government, by going to unusual lengths to distance itself from the Tatas after Singur, has ensured that anything to do with the group stokes interest.

In February, a Trinamul leader had stomped out of a conference in Hooghly after seeing two Tata Nanos parked outside the venue.

A month earlier, the visit of an Assembly committee on industry to Gujarat was cancelled, apparently because the itinerary included Sanand, the Nano’s new home.

The CPT, which runs the Haldia harbour, and the Tatas have termed it an “interim arrangement” to facilitate operations suffering because of the suspension of work at the HBT-managed berths.

CPT chairman Manish Jain said: “I hope we will be able to mitigate the problem to a large extent with this arrangement. We were in discussions with the company (TMILL) for sometime. I am happy TMILL has responded positively.”

Dibyendu Bose, the managing director of TMILL, said he was “only too happy to help”. “We don’t want Haldia to suffer. We don’t want any ship to go back,” he said over phone from Jamshedpur.

But TMILL’s intervention in Haldia would not be able to fill completely the void left by HBT. The Tata firm can spare its crane only when it is not using it at its own berth.

Moreover, the CPT will have to make do with one crane compared to HBT’s four.