Absence of key executives adds to Kandla port’s woes2 min read . Updated: 11 Aug 2014, 12:02 AM IST
The cargo handler has been without three key executives for several months even as it grapples with a multitude of issues in face of competition from Mundra port
Bangalore: Kandla port, India’s biggest state-owned cargo handler, has been without three key executives for the past several months even as it grapples with a multitude of issues in the face of competition from nearby privately-run Mundra port, now the country’s biggest commercial port. The port in Gujarat has been without a regular chairman since P.D. Vaghela demitted office on 19 December. The port also has been without a regular deputy chairman since 20 December 2012 and a regular financial advisor and chief accounts officer from 1 May 2013.
Kandla is a category 1 port among 13 owned by the Union government. Twelve of the 13 are run as trusts.
Ravi Parmar, chairman of Mumbai port, is holding additional charge of Kandla port. In July, when his term ended, the shipping ministry asked him to continue for three more months while it screened applicants to appoint a full time chairman, a spokesman for the ministry said.
The previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government had recommended H.K. Makwana, private secretary to then shipping minister G.K. Vasan, for the chairman’s post. But his candidature was rejected by the department of personnel and training because he did not meet the eligibility criteria. The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), during the UPA’s rule also did not accept the candidature of Makwana, at least two people aware of the matter said.
For the post of the financial advisor (equivalent to director of finance at a state-owned firm), the government has decided on direct recruitment, including from the private sector, after the failure of earlier attempts to select a candidate from within the port administration and on deputation from other state-owned ports or government departments, a spokesman for Kandla port said. The absence of key personnel only adds to the woes of Kandla after it ceded ground to Mundra port, run by Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Ltd (APSEZ), as India’s biggest commercial port in the year to March 2013.
Mundra loaded 101.12 million tonnes (mt) of cargo in that year, becoming the first port in India to cross the milestone. Kandla loaded 87 mt during the same period, which was lower than the 93.6 mt it had handled during the previous year. “This is a miserable situation for a port such as Kandla which has to compete with private ports despite all odds," said M.L. Bellani, a labour trustee on the board of Kandla port. He said the capacity addition at Kandla during the last decade has been tardy. Out of the four cargo berths awarded to private firms on a public private partnership (PPP) basis, only two have materialized. Also, only one of the two jetties given to firms for handling their captive cargo has come on stream.
“Kandla port is incurring losses due to the huge expenditure in dredging, road and rail connectivity provided for private terminals which have failed," said B.K. Mansukhani, promoter of Rishi Shipping Pvt. Ltd, a Kandla-based stevedore and on-shore cargo handling firm.
Kandla is also involved in litigation involving a failed private container terminal project.
“If Kandla port had constructed these berths and jetties from its own internal resources, these projects would have been completed and started operations in 2008 itself," Bellani added.
Among state-owned ports, Mormugao port does not have a regular chairman, while ports such as New Mangalore, Paradip, Jawaharlal Nehru port and Mumbai do not have regular deputy chairmen.