Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Paradip, Sep 22:
The week-long logjam over cargo handling at Odisha’s Paradip Port was over after a meeting between the district administration and representatives of the key stakeholders this afternoon.
With the contending parties coming to an agreement, stevedoring operations, which have been badly hit for close to a week because of a strike by Paradip Port Stevedores’ Association (PPSA) and nine other organisations backing it, is set to become normal from 6 am tomorrow.
“We have come to an agreement according to which normal loading and uploading operations would resume from 6 am tomorrow,” said Capt Naik, vice president of Seaways Shipping and Logistics after the meeting.
An agreement had also been reached at the meeting not to go ahead with the cancellation of licence of the striking stevedoring operators, he said.
The president of Paradip Port Stevedores’ Association Mahimananda Mishra and representatives of other organisations backing the strike were present at the meeting convened by Jagatsinghpur collector Bijaya Ketan Upadhaya in an effort to break the deadlock.
Earlier in the day, office bearers of the Federation of Associations of Stevedores (FAS) and Paradip Port Stevedores Association (PPSA) went into a huddle to end the impasse at the major port over cargo handling.
Federation’s president K V Krishna Kumar, secretary Jogesh Mehta and member Asish Mochoda, who arrived at Paradip yesterday evening, engaged in a meeting with PPSA office bearers to find out what led to the dispute, who is at fault, what are the rules and regulations of PPSA, the stand of the port management.
Federation office bearers had a meeting with Paradip Port Trust (PPT) deputy chairman M Bhayapuri in the absence of chairman M T Krishna Babu was not present.
The PPT management, it may be noted, had toughened its stand on the striking stevedores on Monday with PPT chairman M T Krishna Babu warning that strong action will be taken against those violating port rules.
Babu had said if the situation so demands, the port management may float open tender for stevedoring.
The dispute has erupted at the port over handing over of stevedoring job to Seaways Shipping & Logistics Pvt Ltd (SSLPL), an Andhra Pradesh based stevedoring firm which is not a member of PPSA.
“For 12 major ports in the country, there is one set of rules and regulations. Nowhere are ports run according to the rules of the stevedoring association. If one quits, others will come; we will do stevedoring on our own. In such a big state like Odisha, can’t we find people for doing stevedoring work? We will go for open tender, whosoever will bid the lowest will be awarded the job. We won’t allow industrialists to suffer. Those who will or try to violate port rules and obstruct work, action will be taken against them,” M T Krishna Babu Chairman PPT had told reporters here Monday.
However, the PPSA had called it a conspiracy. President of the PPSA Mahimananda Mishra had said that the 10 associations on strike will sit together to prepare a roadmap and meet the state government and the central government to resolve the issue.