HBT, which is a mechanised cargo handler working in berth number 2 & 8 in Haldia Dock Complex (HDC), exited the contract with the port prematurely in November 2012 citing law and order issues.
For the first time, Kahlon admitted that the exit of HBT from Haldia port was a setback for the Calcutta Port Trust.
HBT also alleged that the CPT was not allowing it to carry enough cargo to allegedly protect the interests of manual contractors and the local administration.
HBT was a joint venture between ABG of Mumbai and LDA of France. It used to operate six mobile harbour cranes in these two berths. After its exit, CPT has gone back to manual contractors for unloading of cargo.
As a result, the volume of cargo handled in these berths have come down. Moreover, HBT used to handle gearless vessels with the cranes. In the absence of the cranes, such vessels are getting diverted to nearby ports in Paradip.
Meanwhile, the port failed to attract bidders for the cargo handling contract despite floating tenders twice to induct a new contractor.