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Port alteration move: court asks Centre to file counters

Correspondent


The court is dealing with a PIL filed in February this year


CUTTACK: The Orissa High Court on Tuesday asked the Centre to file its counters by July 19 pertaining to a PIL challenging a notification of the Union Shipping Ministry for the proposed alteration Kolkata Port limits.

“The Centre was asked to file its counters by July 19 while the High Court has posted the case for hearing to the third week of July,” said the petitioner Dilip Kumar Mohapatra, who in his capacity as secretary of Keonjhar Navanirmana Parishad had filed the PIL in February this year and submitted amended petitions in May and again in this month on Monday.

In his latest amended petition, alleging ‘factual inconsistencies' by the Centre, the petitioner has sought quashing of the notification issued by Union Ministry of Shipping on October 22, 2010 for altering the Kolkata Port limits, expanding it by 200 km south of Haldia dock.

The petitioner earlier challenged the November 10, 2010 notification of Kolkata Port alleging that the same would incapacitate the developmental plans of the Orissa government in boosting its maritime activities.

Admitting the PIL, the Orissa High Court in its interim order passed on May 5 restrained the Kolkata port authorities and the Centre from taking any action hurriedly over the proposed alteration of port limit and asked the authorities “not to precipitate the matter.”

Meanwhile, the Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT) has also responded to the High Court notice and filed its counter in the court stating that the petitioner has no cause of action or public claim to agitate over the matter. Urging the court to reject the PIL, the KoPT said the entire petition was based on guess work and assumptions which have no basis in fact.

“The case of the petitioner is entirely speculative, pretentious, and without any substance,” said KoPT in an affidavit.

Affidavit filed

On the other hand, the Orissa government, which was also made a party in the case responding to the notice of the High Court, has filed its affidavit opposing the proposed expansion bid of Kolkata port.

An additional secretary in the department of commerce deposing for the State government has mentioned that if the notifications of the Centre and KoPT are not quashed, the expansion of the Kolkata port would overlap the port limits of seven non-major ports earlier notified by the Government of Orissa.

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