Though Nitin Gadkari, union shipping, roads and highway minister, promised Rs 2,000 crore investment to upgrade the Haldia port, the port authorities here fear that firms doing shore handling job may have to pay a royalty, thus increasing the cost of operations at the main cargo handling arm of Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT).
While royalty is an additional revenue source for KoPT, unless royalty is introduced in all the major ports in the country, KoPT would start losing business.
KoPT has become the first major port in India to float a tender for appointing handlers through competitive bidding along with revenue sharing in dry bulk berths, RPS Kahlon, KoPT chairman, said.
But such an initiative has not been taken in any other port. The upper ceiling of the port charge has been fixed at Rs 119.48 and minimum revenue sharing has been fixed at Rs 13 per tonne only in Haldia.
“Once the royalty system comes into force Haldia will become a high-cost port and start losing its traffic to other neighbouring bulk cargo handling ports and even to private port Dhamra,” a KoPT official said on the condition of anonymity.
According to a source, the Centre wants to introduce royalty in all the major ports but nothing has been done in this direction so far. “Haldia is not being given a level playing field with other ports. The port is already fighting draught constraints. But users still use the port because of its locational advantage with a large hinterland making logistics cost-effective. But if the cost goes up Haldia will lose its relevance and Dhamra will take away its business,” the official said.