The Union Shipping Ministry has decided to extend the limits of the Paradip Port Trust (PPT) to cover Kanika Sands, an island off the Dhamra Port in the Odisha coast.
With such a decision, the earlier notification of extending the limits of the Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT) to cover Kanika Sands now stands null and void. The Union Government will issue a fresh Gazette Notification in this regards in near future.
The Union Ministry’s decision was announced by the Shipping Secretary at a high-level meeting called by him which was attended by the Chief Secretary of Odisha, Chairmen of PPT and KoPT, besides other officials.
The Ministry was against inclusion of Kanika Sands in the port limits of the Dhamra Port, which is a private port. Kanika Sands was the bone of contention between the Union Shipping Ministry and the Kolkata Port Trust on one side and the Odisha Government on the other after the extension of the limits of the KoPT to cover Kanika Sands through a Gazette Notifications.
As the KoPT is a riverine port and needs huge maintenance for dredging for entry of bigger vessels to the Kolkata and Haldia Ports, the Kolkata Port management was contemplating transshipping of the cargo from bigger ships to smaller ones at Kanika Sands after the extension of its jurisdiction. The smaller ships with lesser drafts in turn would have entered the Kolkata and Haldia Ports for discharge of their cargoes.
The Odisha Government, with the backing of at least two private ports of the State, had opposed the Gazette Notification, saying the island is located off the Odisha coast and, therefore, only the Odisha State should decide on who could work there.
The Ministry replied that any decision in regard to ship movement in international waters rested with the Centre. The issue went up to the Supreme Court, which directed that the dispute be settled amicably.
Welcoming the Union Shipping Ministry’s decision, PPT Chairman Sudhanshu Sekhara Mishra expressed his satisfaction over it and said that both Kolkata and Paradip Ports would work out the modalities of the proposed operation at Kanika Sands for their mutual benefits.
He further said, “It is a new concept, a new model envisaging cooperation between the two public-sector Major Ports and we must make it a success.”