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ABG Infra may pull out of berth operations at Haldia - 2012-08-27

Lack of cargo as well as pressure from various labour unions to induct three times more people than required has forced ABG Infralogistics Ltd to consider a pullout from berth operations in Haldia. The development has raised serious questions on the viability over Kolkata Port Trust’s (KoPT) decision to increase berth operations at Haldia through the public private partnership (PPP) mode. According to sources in ABG, which handles ‘dry bulk’ at two (berths 2 and 8) of the existing 10 berths at Haldia, the company has suffered a loss of Rs 24 crore from Haldia port operations.

“While we require a maximum of 350 people for our Haldia operations, we employ nearly 1,000 people. Around 650 are direct employees, while another 350are employed through sub-contracts,” an ABG source said. According to company sources, ABG will break even at Haldia at 9 million tonnes of cargo. It currently handles 5 mt. ABG confirmed that it has no agreement with KoPT over a commitment to handle 9 mt of cargo at the port. KoPT has, however, claimed that there has been no violation from their side in agreements with ABG. “I have to examine what their grievances are. As far as I know, there is no violation from our side. Neither do we have an agreement that mandates that we pass-on a minimum amount of dry bulk cargo to ABG.

However, even then, we had passed on 40 per cent of the total dry bulk cargo at Haldia to them,” said Manish Jain, Chairman, KoPT. According to Jain, of the 13.5 mt of dry bulk cargo handled by Haldia port in its 10 berths, around 5.6 mt was passed on to ABG. “If despite this, they claim that they are suffering losses then I am sure that there are some external factors that cannot be attributed to the port authorities. We will have to take up their grievances after I receive their letter,” he added. Jain also added that unless there is a violation of contract from either of the two parties, neither of them can come out of an agreement.

Source : Hindu Business Line