For ‘arbitrarily’ abandoning dock, KoPT to blacklist HBT

The Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT) authorities on Thursday said it would blacklist the ABG-led Haldia Bulk Terminal (HBT) for "abandoning the contract illegally, arbitrarily and with malafide intention".

Acting Chairman of KoPT Manish Jain said that the port authority "will blacklist other partners of ABG in a phased manner by obliging all legal means".

The KoPT's decision has therefore put a question mark on the fate of its contracts with Kolkata Container Terminal Pvt Ltd, a subsidiary of the ABG, which is operating at Kolkata Dock Complex.

Moreover, Jain said that as per the terms of the agreement between the KOPT and HBT, the port authority will serve a notice to the cargo-handling firm to "encash the performance guarantee amounting to Rs 4 crore".

The process to recover the losses for the remaining seven years, which could be as high as Rs 1,000 crore, would be taken up, he added.

Gurpreet Malhi, the CEO of HBT, declined to comment on KoPT's decision to blacklist the firm. "We have not received any communication from the KoPT and we will comment only after receiving a written communication from them."

The KOPT, which held its board meeting on Thursday, also decided to initiate fresh tenders for the two berths — number 2 and 8 — handled by the outgoing cargo-handling company from Friday. "The board agreed to the proposal for re-tendering of the contract and we expect to offer the letter of intent by December," said Jain. The new firm will be decided by January next year, he added.

He said a petition by KoPT before the Calcutta High Court seeking direction to direct HBT (Haldia Bulk Terminals) to begin operation would not affect the retendering process.

Work at berth number 2 and 8, meanwhile, will remain suspended until arrangements made by the KoPT for clearing cargo are not put in place.

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