Haldia as venue of bid sparks controversy

The Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT) authority has convened the pre-bid meeting for mechanisation of two berths — number 2 and 8 — of Haldia dock on Wednesday. Earlier, ABG-led Haldia Bulk Terminal (HBT) were operating at the two berths but had to wrap up its operation citing law and order problem.

However, the decision to convene the pre-bid meeting on Wednesday at Haldia has triggered a controversy with dock officers of Haldia Dock Bachao Committee (HDBC) claiming that the meeting has been scheduled so that no other global partners can participate in the bid except Ripley and Company and its consortium owned by Trinamool MP Tutu Bose.

The meeting is scheduled at Chiranjibpur Building at Haldia port for 11 am.

HDBC claimed that when ABG-led HBT got the tender in 2008, the meeting was held in Kolkata, and four consortiums, including ABG Infralogistics and Kolkata Terminal, Ripley and Tata Martred International Logistics Limited, SICAL-led consortium and Orissa Stevedors Limited (OSL)-led consortium took part in the tendering process with ABG winning the contract by quoting the lowest price of Rs 75 per metric tonne of cargo.

A senior officer of HDBC said that for the mechanisation of berth 4B, the KoPT has convened the pre-bid meeting at Kolkata, but for berths 2 and 8, the meeting has been called at Haldia. "This is gross injustice to other companies who want to bid for the operation," said a member of HDBC.

Two major private handling agents like SICAL and OSL, which had bid earlier, are now shying from bidding this time fearing that it will meet the same fate of the ABG. Lingaraj Panigrahi, General Manager of OSL, said: "After investing money at Haldia, we do not want to run our business at a loss."

Damodar Nayak, Manager, Shipping and Cargo Handling of the KoPT, confirmed the meeting's schedule and rubbished the allegations of the HDBC.

... contd.

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