KoPT agrees to withdraw case filed in Supreme Court: Odisha

Bhubaneswar: Odisha government on Thursday said Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT) has agreed to withdraw its petition filed in the Supreme Court over a dispute relating ownership over coastal waters.

"KoPT has agreed to withdraw its petition filed in the Supreme Court. Once they withdraw the petition, we will follow suit. Transloading operations on Kanika sands will be under PPT's control," Odisha's commerce and transport minister Subrat Tarai told reporters here.

Stating that transloading will be allowed for five months and any player who applies for such operations will have to take permission from the Paradip Port Trust (PPT) authorities, the Minister said Kanika sands, an island in the Bay of Bengal, was very much in the jurisdiction of Odisha.

Reiterating that KoPT has agreed to withdraw its petition, Odisha's Chief Secretary B K Patnaik said: "We wanted to make it sure that the operation of any upcoming port in the state not be hit due to transloading at Kanika island".

The dispute between Odisha government and KoPT originated in 2010 when it came to know that KoPT has extended its operation limit beyond Kanika island in the state.

"Our contention was that if the KoPT's operation area is extended beyond Kanika island, the small ports in the state will be affected," Patnaik said.

The state government, however, moved the Orissa High Court as the Union Shipping Ministry justified a notification in which the KoPT's operational area was extended without taking consent of the state.

The dispute between the Odisha government and KoPT authorities had reached the Supreme Court with Union shipping ministry also being a party.

Both KoPT and the ministry received a setback in November 2011 after the Orissa High Court quashed their notifications that sought to extend Kolkata port's limits arbitrarily.

Besides scrapping the notifications, the High Court admitted that the unilateral extension of KoPT's limits would seal the fate of seven upcoming minor ports proposed along the coast of north Odisha by blocking their access.

However, the contentious issue of allowing transloading operations on Kanika sands has also been resolved with the Union shipping ministry allowing Paradeep Port Trust (PPT) control over such operations, Tarai said.