Haldia docks face severe problem as water level fallsSeptember 30th, 2008 - 4:40 pm ICT by IANS
Kolkata, Sep 30 (IANS) The Haldia docks may face severe problems in the coming winter starting this November as the depth of water in the Hooghly river has gone down since August, a top Kolkata port official said here.This has forced authorities at Kolkata port - under which the Haldia docks fall - to send emergency requests to the Dredging Corp of India Ltd (DCI) and the shipping ministry to arrange for more dredgers, the official added.
“An emergency meeting has been called with the shipping secretary to apprise the ministry of this impending crisis,” Kolkata Port Trust chairman A.K. Chanda told a seminar late Monday evening.
The draught - water depth required by vessels to move - of the Hoogly river has dropped to 3.9 metre at Jellingham Channel and 4.4 metre at Auckland Channel. The minimum level required by these two key points in the river are five metres and 5.5 metres, respectively, said A.K. Bagchi, Kolkata port’s director (marine).
Haldia town is a major trading port approximately 50 km southwest of Kolkata near the mouth of the Hooghly river. Power utilities, steel plants, refineries and chemical companies scattered over eastern, northern and southern regions use the docks here.
The port has a requirement of six dredgers to expedite dredging in the river. But at present, it has only three.
“A request has been made to provide one dredger by October and another by the middle of November to the DCI so that dredging is carried out on an emergency basis during the winter. An agreement has been reached with DCI to charter a foreign dredger for a two-year period, the financial terms of which have already been decided upon,” Chanda added.
The river regulatory measure, a comprehensive package of measures to improve navigability of the Hooghly river, at Rs.9.36 billion is yet to be cleared by the central government.
“The cost of the river regulatory measure may come down as we would now concentrate dredging to a specific channel,” the port trust chairman said.