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Proposal to hike freight rates irks Kolkata Port Trust

Our Bureau

Kolkata , April 23

KOLKATA Port Trust has expressed shock at the decision of the Calcutta Feeder Operators (Calfo), a consortium of six feeder lines operating between Kolkata/Haldia and Singapore/Port Klang, to hike freight rates by $75 per TEU on all shipments to and from Haldia and by $125 per TEU to and from Kolkata Dock System (KDS) from May 15.

More than the freight increase, what has upset the port authorities is the imposition of two different rates for KDS and Haldia. "I strongly feel such different tariff for the same port is unwarranted," Mr M.A. Bhaskarachar, Deputy Chairman of Kolkata Port Trust in charge of the KDS, has stated in a circular to the feeder lines concerned.

"It is indeed shocking as you are fully aware that both Kolkata and Haldia docks are in the same port and no such difference has ever existed in the history of the port," Mr Bhaskarachar has observed.

Describing the freight-hike proposal "a highly restrictive practice", which will go against the interest of the users of the KDS, he urged the feeder operators to withdraw immediately the "unilateral, subjective and unjustifiable differentiation between two docks of the same port" and "restore parity before it is too late".

Sources close to the feeder operators, however, are not convinced that they have done anything wrong by deciding to charge two different freights for the two dock systems. "If the port can charge two different rates at KDS and Haldia, there is no reason why the same principle will not apply to freight rates also," the sources observe.

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