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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Kolkata Port Trust unaware of plans to allow Nepal use Vizag port

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

The Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT), which now handles almost all of Nepal’s sea-borne trade, is in the dark about India’s plan to let the Himalayan nation also use the Viskhapatnam port to route its imports and exports, in fact more imports than exports. India’s plan is contained in the joint statement issued after the Nepalese Prime Minister’s recent visit to this country.
“On the other hand, we have reasons to believe that the Nepalese trade would like to strengthen its presence at Kolkata port as it is satisfied with the kind of service it receives at the Kolkata Dock System as well as Haldia,” a spokesman for KoPT told Business Line.
As it was pointed out only a few days go, Nepal Transit Warehousing Corporation Ltd., a Government undertaking, registered the lease agreement earlier signed with the KoPT for the godown it has within the Kolkata Dock System.
Box freight station
The 5,500-sq metre godown is to be developed into a container freight station, NTWCL is believed to have indicated to the KoPT.
A few years ago, the Nepal Government opened a window on India’s west coast, promising to route part of its imports and exports through Jawaharlal Nehru Port. However, nothing much has happened as almost all of Nepal’s sea-borne trade continues to be routed through the Kolkata port, which is the transit port for that country.
Trade Protocol
There is another point. The existing protocol governing the trade and transit facility between the two countries does not provide for transit facility through any other port. Which means, to include Visakhapatnam port, the protocol has to be modified, requiring ratification by the authorities concerned in both the countries.
The talk of diverting part of Nepal’s sea-borne trade from Kolkata to Visakhapatnam port is not new. The port has a modern container terminal operated by a private joint venture company.
One of the promoters of the Vizag container terminal is also the promoter of another company that runs container trains in India.
The plan, therefore, is to run private container trains between the inland container depot at Birganj in Nepal and the Visakhapatnam port.
Birganj link
A delegation from Nepal also visited Visakhapatnam port some time ago. Right now, Nepal’s Birganj ICD, the only one of its kind in the country, is directly linked to Kolkata port by rail and the container train service on the route is operated only by the public sector Container Corporation of India.
Till July this year, Kolkata Dock system handled 3,54,619 tonnes of Nepal’s traffic, comprising 3,41,303 tonnes of imports and 13,316 tonnes of exports.
During the same period, Haldia dock handled a total of 36,761 tonnes, comprising 36,697 tonnes of imports and 64 tonnes of exports.
In 2008-09, the total volume of Nepal’s traffic routed through the Kolkata port was 8,41,536 tonnes, of which 7,40,366 tonnes were through the Kolkata Dock System and 1,01,170 tonnes via Haldia.
Source: The Hindu Business Line