Centre bars total port privatisation

| 02 January 1997 23:20 IST

The central government has warned the state government that it would not tolerate total privatisation of minor ports, but would allow only private participation into it, with the ownership being retained with the state authorities.

The Ministry of Surface Transport has also decided to be tough on opening minor ports, without proper facilities being provided for loading and unloading of cargo. The Goa government is presently being under close scrutiny as far as both the issues are concerned.

While announcing that Ninth five year plan has made a provision of around Rs 200 crore for the development of minor ports with private participation, surface transport minister T G Venkataraman during his recent Goa visit made it clear privatisation of ports would be allowed only on the lines of Gujarat.

The Goa government, which is alleged to have been functioning at the tune of local mine owners, has decided to privatise all the three existing minor ports in the state, of Panaji, Betul and Talpona. "The documents are being prepared", said chief secretary G C Srivastava, while declining to reveal more details.

S R Kulkarni, president of All India Port and Dock Workers Federation, openly alleges that the state government here has been giving too many concessions to the mine owners. "Let the rich be also taxed", he told the state chief minister at an MPT function while requesting the centre to amend the antiquated laws accordingly.

State chief minister Pratapsing Rane however denies the allegation, claiming that opening of Panaji minor port was called for as the Mormugao Port Trust could not cope up with the increasing demand for exports.

But Venkataraman seems to be not fully satisfied with the way the Panaji port has been made available for the iron ore exporters.

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