CM was informed of ‘vested interests’ behind impasse two months ago

Though Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had been saying "nothing happened" in Haldia till ABG-LDA's venture HBT made an exit from the port town, she was fully aware of the growing crisis at the dock in September itself.

A letter sent by Kolkata Port Trust Pensioners' Association to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on September 22 had sought her immediate intervention in "saving the port, its employees and pensioners by protecting HBT from the trouble created by vested interest groups".

A copy of the letter is with The Indian Express.

"We will request you to kindly take an independent view of the situation by engaging and independent competent officer who should submit an unbiased opinion to you about the entire matter, before you frame your opinion," wrote A K Parial, president of the association, in the letter.

The letter is dated September 22 — the same day when HBT suspended its operations at its two berths.

In the letter, Parial described in details why HBT's smooth operations at Haldia Dock Complex were needed in the interest of the port, which already has been going through severe financial crisis.

Parial wrote they learnt about the entire development through media reports and by contacting present employees and other retired employees and were of the understanding that the impasse, created by vested interest groups of the private handling agents doing shore operations, was "affecting not only the interest of 9,000 employees but also 30,000 pensioners".

"We are not only having an emotional attachment with the organisation but are also our livelihood is still depending on the pension that we receive from the port," he wrote.

However, the association did not receive any reply from the chief minister's office.

Crisis man-made, say retired port officers

Members of Kolkata Port Retired Officers' Association are also worried about the future of Haldia port. Speaking to The Indian Express, Amal Chakraborty, president of the association, dubbed the current incident as "man-made, intentional act in self-interest by the vested interest groups so that they can take over after driving away the HBT". "The KoPT is going through a deep financial crisis for several reasons. HBT's berths were earning the port a lot of money. Their exit is a cause of senior concern," he said.

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