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Indian Major Ports Face Bleak Future Without Captains for Months

Chennai:

Port Wings News Network:

Out of 12 major ports dotting across the east and west coasts in the country, six are without a full-time chairman for months. And the delay in appointing a regular chairman for these ports is affecting the prospects of these facilities, say port users.

Government of India through its Ministry of Shipping manages 12 major ports – Deendayal (Kandla), Jawaharlal Nehru (Nhava Sheva), Mumbai, New Mangalore, Mormugoa, Cochin, V O Chidambaranar (Tuticorin), Chennai, Kamarajar (Ennore), Vishakapatnam, Paradip and Kolkata.

Of them, Deendayal, JNPT, New Mangalore, Cochin, Chidambaranar, and Kamarajar ports are without a regular chairman for months.

TEMPORARY ARRANGEMENT

The Ministry of Shipping recently announced appointment of chairman-in-charges for three Major Ports – Cochin, V O Chidambaranar (Tuticorin) and Kamarajar (Ennore).  As per the order Mr P Raveendran, Chairman of Chennai Port Trust, given an additional charge as CMD of Kamarajar Port Ltd. Likewise, Mr Venkata Ramana Akkaraju, Deputy Chairman of Cochin Port Trust, entrusted with additional charge as Chairman, Cochin Port Trust.

Besides, Mr Rinkesh Roy, Chairman of Paradip Port Trust, has been given additional charge as Chairman of V. O. Chidambaranar Port Trust.

STATUS OF PORTS WITHOUT CHAIRMAN

Kamarajar Port, the only corporate port under the administrative control of the Ministry of Shipping and located at Ennore near Chennai in Tamil Nadu, is without a regular chairman and managing director (CMD) since August 2017.

As the then chief M A Bhaskarachar retired on July 31, 2017, government had advertised for the post and proceeded with selecting a new chairman. However, Cyril George, Deputy Chairman of Chennai Port, approached the Madras High Court and delayed the process as his application was rejected by the selection committee. The court ordered the committee to examine Cyril George’s application for the post. And since then, the selection process is on and on, for the last 11 months.

Initially, Rinkesh Roy, Chairman, Paradip Port, took charge as the in-charge CMD of the port and very recently, the Ministry appointed P Raveendran as in-charge until a new CMD is appointed.

Similarly, chairman post in V O C Port is also lying vacant since August 2017.  After the retirement of Chandrabose, Deputy Chairman of the port Natarajan took over the additional responsibility for some months.

Later, the government appointed I Jeyakumar, chairman of Mormugoa Port as chairman-in-charge. And recently, the Ministry appointed Rinkesh Roy, Chairman of Paradip Port, as its in-charge chairman.

Local EXIM community has been questioning the inordinate delay in appointing a regular chairman for VOC Port.

And Cochin Port too shares a similar story. After Paul Antony completed his tenure as chairman in Cochin more than a year ago, no one has been appointed for the post. And recently, government appointed Venkata Ramana Akkaraju, Deputy Chairman of the port, to hold additional charge as Chairman.

Other ports like JNPT, New Mangalore and Deendayal also has similar stories, as they are also without a regular chairman for months and managed by in-chargers.

According to port users, the role of chairman is considered as important in the development of any ports. A regular chairman will help the port in fishing out issues that affect their growth and solve them immediately. For the others, the additional charges mean just an additional work.

Without a regular chairman, these six ports are liable to slow down in their approach towards growth and decision making will be stretched for months. Every port has its own problems that need to be solved immediately to remain on course of development.

Efficiency in management will suffer: Union leader R.Santhanam

Speaking to Port Wings, R. Shanthanam, President, Indian Major Port Officers Association, said, “We have filed a complaint to the Prime Minister of India Office (PMO) on the issue and requested the PMO to look into the overall implications. We have also apprised the PMO about the demerits of not having a regular chairman in these ports, which will not only affect the growth of any port, but also affect the moral of the head of the departments, other officials and the whole work force in those facilities. It is important to have chairman at all the major ports to essentially to meet the day-to-day challenges in improving business in the face of competition from non-major ports (private ports).”

“A delay in appointing chairmen for one or two months can be taken as a realistic administrative practice. But, having them vacant for more than a year is something we unheard of. Therefore, we appeal to the Ministry of Shipping to take immediate steps and appoint chairmen in all six ports.”

DELAY IN APPOINTMENT OF TRUSTEES

Speaking to Port Wings, Rajasekar, President, Tamil Chamber of Commerce, said, “There is also a delay in appointing trustees in all the ports. They are very important members of the authority to run the show in every port. These trustees help the chairman to take decision on many important issues. So, the Ministry of Shipping should also think of appointing trustees at the earliest to create a business-friendly environment in every port.”

DELAY DUE TO UNAVAILABILITY OF QUALIFIED PERSONNEL: MINISTER PON RADHAKRISHNAN

Speaking to Port Wings, Pon Radhakrishnan, Minister of State, Shipping, said, “Many people including the EXIM community have been questioning me about the long delay in filling up vacancies of chairman post in these ports. We cannot choose anybody in a hurry to lead these ports and then change them frequently. The delay is mainly due to our increased focus on selecting a qualified hand to head those ports. To run the port operations smoothly, we have also given additional powers to those in-charge chairmen. They can take all the executive decisions in the interest of their respective ports. Therefore, I will not accept the allegation that the delay is hampering port’s growth. We cannot fix a time-frame for selecting a chairman for any port.”

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