The joint forum of trade unions at the Cochin port has urged the Government of India not to provide land, especially water-front area, under the ownership of major ports for projects under build-operate-transfer (BOT), build-own-operate-transfer (BOOT) and public-private partnership (PPP) modes.
The TU leaders raised the demand in a memorandum submitted to the Parliament Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture, headed by Sitaram Yechuri. The committee members and chairman were in Kochi to review the latest developments in the sectors concerned. The demand by the TU leaders gains significance in the wake of the latest controversy regarding the handing over of 26 acres of land to Lulu Group at Bolghatty Island for setting up a hotel and convention centre. The economic policies followed by most of the major ports in the country are so liberal that they allow investment under various modes, giving land under the ownership of Port Trusts. The experience clearly revealed that it is detrimental to the national economy and the interests of the ports and the workers,” the leaders said.
TU forum leaders P M Mohammed Haneef and C D Nandakumar cite International Container Transshipment Terminal (ICTT), Vallarpadam, as a ‘classic example’. “When awarding such projects, the responsibility of ensuring basic infrastructure facilities by spending several thousand crores of rupees is vested either with the Port Trust or the respective state government. The share of the licensee of the project will normally be meagre and the licensee or the operator becomes the beneficiary of the project. The CPT is in troubled waters after the ICTT was commissioned. The normal maintenance dredging expenditure of the Cochin Port which stood at `30 -35 crore per annum rose to `122.58 crore in 2012-13, after the commissioning of the ICTT. As per the license agreement, the CPT had to provide the connectivity to the ICTT, including rail, road, and ship channel.