Status quo on CPT limits
|Orissa High Court|
Cuttack, Sept. 29: Orissa High Court today ordered status quo to be maintained within the extended limits of Calcutta Port Trust (CPT). The order was issued following allegations that the CPT had violated the court order.
Keonjhar Nava Nirman Parishad (KNNP) filed a PIL challenging the revised limit of the CPT, which allegedly extends well into the territory of Orissa. On May 5, the high court issued notices to the central government and the CPT and directed the shipping secretary and the CPT authorities “not to precipitate the matter”. The interim order was subsequently extended till further orders.
But the Orissa government had accused the CPT of going ahead with plans to start trans-loading operations at Kanika Sands Island “in blatant disregard of Orissa High Court order”.
Orissa’s commerce and transport department’s additional secretary Sitanath Rath filed a petition seeking an order to restrain the CPT from proceeding with plans to construct a trans-loading terminal at Kanika Sands Island within the territory of Orissa.
During the hearing, KNNP counsel Narsingh Mishra sought status quo order. Mishra also pressed to initiate contempt proceedings against the CPT for violation of court order.
In pursuance of the court direction, the CPT filed an affidavit denying the allegations. “The Calcutta Port Trust has not started operations within the extended limits. In order to start operations, no trans-loader has been obtained or even negotiated for yet. Therefore, there can be no trans-loading operations,” said Madan Lal Meena, chairman of the board of trustees of the CPT.
In a counter affidavit, the CPT had earlier contended that the PIL challenging the notification to extend the limits of navigable channel of Calcutta port under the provision of Indian Port Act, 1908, “is not maintainable”.
The two-judge bench of Chief Justice V. Gopala Gowda and Justice B.N. Mohapatra, however, today observed that “the petitioner (KNNP) has made up a case for a PIL”.
The bench further directed the CPT “to maintain status quo till the matter is heard and concluded”. The court fixed October 17 as the date for next hearing on the matter.
The Orissa government had alleged that the CPT, which was planning to build a trans-loading terminal at Kanika Sands Island, had already invited bids and was expecting an approval from the Union ministry of shipping soon to sign an agreement in December.
KNNP secretary Dillip Kumar Mohapatra had filed the PIL seeking quashing of the November 19, 2010 notification allowing the CPT to extend its limit into the already notified limits of Bichitrapur, Subarnarekha mouth, Bahabalpur, Inchudi, Chandipur, Chudamani and Dhamra ports of Orissa.
In another development, the Union ministry of shipping had filed an affidavit justifying the notification extending the limits of the CPT. “The central government is fully empowered to issue such notifications. It also has the powers to alter the limits of any port by uniting with that port, any other port or any part of any other port,” said Ramesh Chandra Sethi, undersecretary of the ministry of shipping.
“The action taken by the central government is for the best interest of the public and to reduce the outflow of national exchequer towards high cost of transportation of goods,” the affidavit said.