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Kolkata port seeks 450 acres from State govt for dumping silt - 2012-07-09

The Kolkata Port Trust has sought 450 acres from the West Bengal government to facilitate dredging at Jellingham Bar. The land will be used for dumping the silt to be dredged from the river. Jellingham is a natural sand bar or obstruction on the river channel, impacting the navigability to Haldia dock complex. Dredging operations are set to begin soon to improve the available draught to the port.

We are in discussions with the State Government for permissible possession of the land. We are also in touch with the local people’s representative and the district authorities, Mr Manish Jain, Chairman, Kolkata Port Trust, said. No Acquisition

According to Mr Jain, since the river bed carries top soil from the upstream, recovery of the same would add to the fertility of the region. Siltation is a common problem in riverine ports and requires regular dredging. Currently, the port authorities are carrying out offshore dumping, that is, the silt is dumped in the sea. Since silt is washed back onto the riverbed during high tides, the port is now looking at shore dumping as a more effective dredging option.

According to Mr Jain, the port authority is also looking to co-ordinate lighterage operations to help increase cargo movement in both Haldia and Kolkata docks. Lighterage operation, currently carried out by private barge operators, means mid-stream unloading of part of the cargo onto smaller vessels. The operation helps larger vessels, now lighter, to negotiate the low draught. The port gains as it can accommodate the full parcel load, divided in different ships. In the new scheme of things, the port will coordinate with the private operators for lighterage.

While private operators will ensure cargo to the port, it will offer two dedicated berths for faster unloading of such cargo, helping both the private operators, shipping liners, port users and others. Coupled with measures taken to improve navigability (by opening the all-weather Eden channel) and a coordinated lighterage is expected to benefit the port by nearly two million tonnes of additional cargo. Kolkata port handled 43 mt of cargo in 2011-12.

We are in talks with all the stake-holders to make lighterage an organised service. We are trying to reduce waiting time for the mother and barge vessels at the docks. It would help reduce operational cost and improve revenues, Mr Jain said.

Source: Hindu Business Line