House panel, CAG put Kolkata port ops in dock

Written by Indronil Roychowdhury | Kolkata | Updated: Aug 19 2013, 09:31am hrs
Rajya Sabha secretariat memorandum, CAG and parliamentary panel reports have started throwing light on the port sector scam that adds up to Rs 1.5 lakh crore. Major discrepancies have been found in appointment of cargo-handling agents and disposing waste oil from the ports.

FE had already reported about CAG findings on appointment of unauthorised agents for onshore operation (report on August 12). It has been found that the parliamentary standing committee on transport, tourism and culture has identified major financial leakages in waste oil disposal, though the government is yet to take any action on it.

Rajya Sabha secretariat, on the basis of the parliamentary panel report, had issued a memorandum on July 12 RS 16(3) (IV) 2013 (available with FE) seeking an explanation from the shipping ministry and port authorities about waste oil disposal, a potential revenue source for the port sector.

The secretariat in its memorandum said: Around 18,000 kl of waste oil is generated in Kolkata and Haldia ports annually. This waste oil is disposed through private parties on nomination basis at throwaway prices whereas this is reaching the market at a higher price later. Similar situation prevails at other major ports as well. The memorandum says: Proper tendering for the purpose is not being done, which is mandatory under CVC guidelines. The CVC guidelines have been violated at other major ports also. It is resulting in heavy losses to the national exchequer.

All India Major Ports and Dock Officers Association, (AIMPDOA), which has helped the panel in identifying the leakages, estimated that the country has lost the opportunity of generating more than Rs 10,500 crore worth of revenue over a period of 35 years for not conforming with the provisions of the CVC.

CAG had already reported violation of norms in allowing unauthorised agents to carry out onshore operations without sharing royalty with the ports. AIMPDOA says with each agent carrying away Rs 450-500 crore annually from the ports, the loss to the exchequer adds up to Rs 1,40,000 crore over a period of 35 years on account of unauthorised cargo handling.

A TMC MP, also a member in the plan panel, said: The Centre is trying to hush up the anomalies in the government-run port sector and Parliament is also not keen on taking up the issue since it would involve almost all the political parties that have drained funds out of the system.