There is a need for a container terminal on the west of Kolkata city (Howrah) side, which could avoid trucks coming to Kolkata, Tirupati Vessels’ director, Rajiv Agarwal said. The India-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry president, AM Ahmad, said funding for the project will not be a problem from the private sector and even Bangladeshi investors are keen on developing it, if the government decides.
However, Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT) has dismissed the need at this hour. Tirupati Vessels recently started RoRo (Roll-on/roll-off) service in the city. KoPT chairman Vinit Kumar said that that RoRo service addresses the issue and had been commenced to transfer the trucks to Howrah, bypassing Kolkata roads and bridges for their onward journey.
Pollution in Kolkata has been rising alarmingly and the principal bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had slapped a Rs five-crore penalty on the state, for its failure to control air quality in the city. The state’s environment and transport minister had said commercial vehicles beyond 15 years, coming from districts and other states, were a cause of concern as they were contributing heavily to the high pollution.
The KoPT chairman said that inland waterways trade with Bangladesh is not doing justice to its potential, due to the lack of inward cargo from Bangladesh, which makes freight costlier. “Talks have been held at the government level, for export cargo of Bangladesh to be allowed on Indian vessels from Dhaka’s Panagon river port,” he said. The successful trail of a coastal vessel to Pangaon was first held in February 2017.