Orissa protests KoPT limit extension

New Delhi/Bhubaneswar: Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Wednesday called on Union Minister of Shipping G.K. Vasan and raised concerns over limit extension plans of Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT) which would have adverse impact on the seven upcoming minor ports along the northern coast of the state.

Allaying the apprehension of Chief Minister, the Union minister assured that remedial measures would be taken to ensure that port development in Orissa does not suffer. He further stated that the KoPT limits were extended basically for providing transloading facilities at the Kolkata Port.

Apprising the Union minister of the extension of port limits of the Kolkata port through a notification dated November 10, 2010, Patnaik called for immediate withdrawal of the notification, terming it as arbitrary.

As per the records, the limits of KoPT extends 50 km south of Haldia into the Bay of Bengal. After approval from Union shipping ministry, KoPT issued a notification regarding limit extension. However, with the revised limits of KoPT, the area extended from 750 sq km to 28, 646 sq km south of Haldia into the Bay of Bengal blocking the entire coast of North Orissa where seven ports are being developed.

The revised limits effectively block the access to Dhamara port which is already developed and the access to all future ports north of Dhamara including Kirtania, Bichitrapur, Bahabalpur Chudamani and Inchudi.

According to experts, the revised plans would endanger state`s efforts to develop the maritime sector and would adversely impact state`s industrial and economic growth.
The experts apprehend that the fast changing water level of Hoogly river might have prompted the KoPT officials to take such step.

After state government lodged protest with the Union shipping ministry, the ministry is likely to convene a meeting on February 12 on the issue.