Present tense at Kamarajar Port as privatisation plan stuns employees
Core group of secretaries on disinvestment has already given green light for the port’s sale
CHENNAI: The proposal to divest government holding in Kamarajar Port, Ennore, has ruffled the feathers of not just politicians and lower level staff, but also higher officers who were kept in the dark about it till news reports appeared.
“We ourselves are unaware of the move and learnt it only from newspapers,” said one of the top port officials.
Nearly 100 employees, including officers, engineers and workers gathered before the gate of the port urging the Centre to cancel the proposal. The port chairman M A Bhaskarachar refused to comment. Top officials in Shipping Ministry could not be reached.
The core group of secretaries on disinvestment, headed by the Union cabinet secretary, has already approved the sale of Kamarajar Port, a public sector entity, a move that found support from government think tank Niti Ayog.
Parliamentarian Tapan Sen, a member of the Committee on Public Undertakings, has criticised the move, pointing out how the port has been earning profit. The logic that privatisation would make the management more efficient does not hold good in any way, he said.
“Kamarajar Port has been set up with investment from the public exchequer. A big share of the investment, to the tune of D630 crore, came from Chennai Port. Chennai Port holds around 37.33 per cent share of Kamarajar Port and any privatisation will affect it adversely.”
General secretary of Kamarajar Port Employees union P V Shaju said employees will protest against the proposal on June 29. He said the employees are worried about their fate in the event of privatisation of the port.