Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Paradip, Sep 18:
Cargo handling at Odisha’s Paradip Port has come to a grinding halt due to a strike by 10 organisations alleging large-scale irregularities in cargo handling at the port.
Hundreds of members belonging to these 10 organisations marched in a joint rally to the office of the additional district magistrate (ADM) holding placards in their hands and submitted a memorandum to him. Among other things, the memorandum protested against port authorities allowing stevedoring work to M/s. Seaways Shipping & Logistics Pvt. Ltd.
The 10 organizations included the Stevedores’ Association, Dumper Owners’ Association, Intra-Port Drivers and Helpers Association, Kujanga Bar Association, Oil Refinery Labour Union, Paradip-Erasama Silpanchala Bikash Parishad and Paradip Islamic Association.
With cargo loading and unloading activities at the port seriously affected due to the agitation, the ADM has called a bi-partite meeting at his office at 5 PM to sort out the issue.
“This is an agitation by all. It’s a fight for survival. It’s for getting justice. This is a completely peaceful agitation. All are here to ensure food for themselves. Beggars have no choice. We have the right to survive. We are protesting against the inhuman rule of the Paradip Port chairman,” said Harihar Mishra, a member of the Stevedores’ Association.
“Today’s agitation is by all stake holders. Stevedores Association, Dumper Owners’ Association, Intra-Port Drivers and Helpers Association and all stake holders who are working in the port are taking part in the rally as you can see. This agitation is for the benefit of all stake holders. We will intensify our agitation if our demands are not met,” warned Khalid Khan of Heavy Equipment Association.
In a stern message to those creating trouble in the cargo operations of the port, the Paradip Port management had warned on Thursday that ny person or agency trying to create disturbance in the port premises will be dealt with severely and will risk revocation of his license/permission to operate.
The port is committed to give necessary support and protection to any service provider, who wants to use the port facilities for cargo handling as per the port rules, a release issued by the PPT on Thursday said.
To sustain the growth rate, Paradip Port is creating a level playing field for all Port customers to do their business with ease so that the business community will benefit out of the competitive prices for their cargo handling at Paradip Port.
However, a section of Port Stevedores, under the banner of “Paradip port Stevedores Association” and the “Dumper Owners’ Association”, has created a monopoly situation at the Paradip Port for a long time now and is bent on frustrating free market economy to prevail at Paradip Port now, the PPT management said.
The release said though all the mechanized berths of PPT are fully operational and five ships are working since then, including MV. Harm, berthed at EQ-I, by M/s. Seaways Shipping & Logistics Pvt.Ltd. the Dumper Owners’ Association and Paradip Port Stevedores’ Association have refrained from loading of wagons as well as working on ships anchored in the Port.
The Port authorities want to restore normalcy and create a congenial atmosphere in the Port, but the Paradip Port Stevedores’ Association and the Dumper Owners’ Association are bent upon disturbing the peaceful working atmosphere in the Port, said the release.
It may be recalled that one of the Port users for last few years; M/s. Jindal Steel & Power Ltd. (JSPL) as per their policy preferred to do their stevedoring and intra-port handling of cargo on their ships through three Port licensed Stevedores, namely M/s. Sahara Engineering Pvt. Ltd, M/s. Seaways Shipping & Logistics Pvt. Ltd & M/s. Swastik Stevedores Pvt. Ltd. from June 2015.
When one of these above stevedores, M/s. Seaways Shipping & Logistics Pvt. Ltd offered the first ship MV.PRABHU GOPAL by M/s. JSPL, the Dumper Owners’ Association, supported by the Paradip Port Stevedores’ Association, did not allow the intra-port transportation to be done by M/s. Seaways Shipping & Logistics Pvt. Ltd. and created a law and order situation inside the Port. Only with the intervention of the Port & the District Administration, M/s. Seaways Shipping could only complete stevedoring of the said ship, said the PPT release.