An inquiry by the Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT) has found that at least three consignments of Mitsubishi Chemical Corp.’s (MCC) purified terephaltic acid (PTA) plant were unloaded at an illegal jetty near the company’s plant at Haldia.
The illegal jetty had been operating with the knowledge of Haldia Dock Complex (HDC) officials, said a report by A.K. Bagchi, director, marine department of KoPT.
Bagchi, who made an inspection of the jetty on 21 August and spoke to officials of the PTA plant, its handling agents Lee & Muirhead and HDC, said the consignments landed at the illegal jetty between 20 April and 21 July without KoPT authorization.
Bagchi held Lee & Muirhead responsible for digging up a channel from Hooghly to the plant site and for constructing a jetty to operate barges for unloading over-dimensional consignment imported through HDC.
By doing so, Lee & Muirhead has violated Section 46 of the Major Port Trust Act 1963 and a KoPT notification of 19 June 2001, which banned any work within 45.7m from the high water mark at the Hooghly river bank without permission from the KoPT board of trustees (BoT), the report said.
During the inquiry, Lee & Muirhead contended that the jetty was well beyond 45.7m from the high water mark.
“Though they contended that construction was undertaken outside the limits of the port, the same is not tenable for, the moment the bund was breached, the entire newly constructed basin became part of the river and within the port limit,” the report said.
A day before Bagchi’s visit to the jetty, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had raided the jetty. CBI later submitted a report to KoPT chairman Anup Kumar Chanda, recommending action against the traffic manager in charge and the manager (marine operations) of HDC.
When asked what action he was contemplating against the HDC officials indicted by Bagchi and the CBI, Chanda said, “Why should I comment on who said what when you will not tell me where you got the information from?”