Mumbai, Nov 2:
The Mumbai and Nhava Sheva Ship Agents Association (MANSA) on Wednesday cautioned that the blatant killing of a high-ranking port official in Paradip, Odisha, could hit international trade, commercial activities and foreign direct investment in the maritime sector.
In a letter, MANSA drew the attention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the shipping and law ministries to the presence of mafia elements in Paradip Port who needed to be booked.
The letter came in the wake of the broad daylight gunning down of 45-year-old Mahendra Kumar Swain (Babul), the General Manager of Seaways Group in Paradip, when he was driving to office on October 26. The murder sent shockwaves in the shipping fraternity across India.
Condemning the incident, MANSA urged the central and Odisha governments to act sternly and book the culprits to send a strong message to the mafia and rogue elements active in Odisha port.
The killing was the fallout of the successful implementation of bulk stevedoring of Jindal vessels by Seaways Group with support from the state and central authorities, against the monopolistic cartel operating there.
This had immensely benefitted the maritime industry, cargo handling rates came to realistic levels, and many public and private sector industries and investors moved more cargo through Paradip, making it the No. 2 port in the country.
Unfortunately, the prevalence of mafia threatens to change the tide for worse and Swain’s killing could not be averted despite complaints to the local police, MANSA said.
The incident also brought to the fore the mafia influence and how organisations involved in the cartel want to return to the monopolistic practices by resorting to violent and bloody means.
Unless a competitive and congenial environment is evolved at a lower transaction cost for the trade, the ‘ease of doing business’ would only remain an ineffective jingle, the letter added.
Established in 1977, MANSA through its members handles around 85 per cent of all cargo operations in ports across India. (IANS)