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Centre seeks 74% stake in Tajpur SPV from Bengal govt

The Centre has intimated to the West Bengal government that it wants to pick up 74 per cent stake in the proposed Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) that will develop the Tajpur deep sea port in the state.

"Centre is in a view that state should adopt landlord port model to develop Tajpur port and clearly pointed they wish to take 74 per cent, the same equity structure used for Sagar deep sea port," Kolkata Port Trust chairman M T Krishna Babu said in an informal discussion.

But, the state government had indicated to offer 26 per cent.

Centre had threatened to scrap the Sagar Port project citing viability issue if Tajpur comes without partnering KoPT (Centre) and withdraw the sanctioned Rs 515 crore toward land reclamation.

The matter may come up for discussion during a proposed meeting on Thursday between the West Bengal chief secretary Basudeb Banerjee and KoPT chairman.

Earlier, Bengal government was trying to offer Tajpur port at outright development contract basis to a private developer.

But, Krishna Babu said landlord port model is more remunerative in the long term besides having a control.

In the landlord model government builds the critical infrastructure like breakwater, carries out dredging and allows private operators to run the terminals of the port.

Tajpur is better both in technical and accessible infrastructure terms compared to the Sagar port.

Tajpur offers 15-metre draft allowing ships with 60,000 tonnes to dock while Sagar port can offer a 12-metre draft permitting only 45,000 tonnes of cargo.

So far, there are no reports of favourable strong interest from private operators to the state government's proposal, Port officials said.

Meanwhile adding a feather to its cap, the Kolkata Dock System (KDS) of Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT) has created history in container handling in the current financial year (2016-17).

On March 12, the Kolkata Dock System recorded the highest container handling which crossed 6 lakh TEUs for the first time since the inception of containerisation at KDS in 1979. In 2015-16 KDS had handled 5.7 lakh TEUs.

M T Krishna Babu, Chairman, KoPT said that this record container handling could be achieved despite the grave operational constraints like the low navigational draft in the river, unavoidable ship detention due to lock operations of the impounded dock, tide dependence in ship movement, which of which all are unique to this river port.
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