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Top positions at JNPT lie vacant

July 24, 2006 12:42 IST

The Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust, which has drawn up a Rs 90,000 crore (Rs 900 billion) expansion programme, doesn't have a chairman. The posts of deputy chairman and chief manager (finance) are also vacant.

Though the government has appointed BrihanMumbai Mahanagarpalika Corporation  Municipal Commissioner Johny Joseph as JNPT chairman, he has not yet assumed charge as the city is facing a severe crisis caused by the bomb blasts and the downpour.

"The state government does not want Joseph to leave BMC as it wants him to tackle a possible flood situation like last year. This has left JNPT with no option but to wait for its chairman till the rains bid adieu to Mumbai this year," industry sources said.

JNPT, which handles over 58 per cent of the country's container traffic, is in the midst of massive expansion, including setting up of a Rs 5,000-crore (Rs 50 billion) fourth container terminal, a Rs 1,000 crore (Rs 10 billion) third container terminal and a Rs 2,900 crore (Rs 29 billion) channel dredging programmes for various container terminals.

"The decision-making process has slowed down at a time when fast decisions are needed desperately. With congestion increasing in the wake of the monsoon, JNPT will be in serious trouble," a port user said.

At present, Mumbai Port Trust Chairperson Rani Jadhav is holding additional charge of JNPT. Sources say Jadhav is already too overloaded with the management of MbPT.

Ravi B Budhiraja stepped down from his post of JNPT chairman in May. Neera Saggi, who is currently heading Seepz, had stepped down from the post of deputy chairman 14 months back. The post of chief manager (finance) has also been vacant for the past 14 months.

Western India Shippers' Association Secretary General SRL Narasimhan said, "JNPT needs top priority attention at a time when it is facing stiff private non-major ports like Pipavav and Mundra."

Meanwhile, shipping industry players alleged that Shipping Minister TR Baalu is too focused on the east coast such as Chennai Port, Ennore Port, Tuticorin Port and Visakhapatnam Port.

"The shipping ministry has not yet taken any serious steps to speed up MbPT's Rs 1,200-crore (Rs 12 billion) offshore container terminal," industry players said.

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P R Sanjai in Mumbai
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