The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI), the nodal agency of inland waterways in India under the Ministry of Ports, Shipping & Waterways, Government of India, strengthened its operations and management (O&M) function at its Pandu and Dhubri port with an aim to boost cargo export from Assam and the Northeast to Bangladesh and South Asia.
The model is aimed at improving the cargo movement of existing 0.5 million MT to increase to 3 million MT of exports from Assam and the Northeast. This new agreement is also likely to generate potential employment to at least 73,000 man days employment per year during the tenure of the agreement.
This Public Private Partnership (PPP) model will bring in efficiency and perseverance from the private O&M contractor to bring in cargo for export to both the ports, while the IWAI will provide the necessary guidance for smooth movement towards attaining its goal of 3 million MT cargo from Dhubri and Pandu ports within the first two years, from existing movement of 0.5 million MT cargo. The operation & management of the Pandu and Dhubri terminals, both under absolute control of IWAI, Government of India, through a private operator is being done to increase the efficiency of the terminals and cargo movement on National Waterway-2 and Indo-Bangladesh Protocol (IBP) routes. This model has proved the efficient in other ports like GR Jetty at Kolkata and Haldia terminal in improving performance of the ports and viability for unlocking trade potential in the region.
Speaking on the occasion, A Selvakumar, Regional Director (Pandu), Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI), said, “Let me first clarify that neither Pandu nor Dhubri ports were privatised. We have only engaged a specialist contractor who will be operating and managing the cargo from both the ports. The contractor was selected through due process of law through competitive national bidding basis. Also, before tendering these terminals for O&M, a detailed study was also carried out to decide a suitable and most appropriate transaction model. A number of discussions were held with the stakeholders/local operators at Pandu & Dhubri as well as other places. Based on the outcome of the discussions with the stakeholders/private operators, the process of giving out the terminal on operation & management basis was initiated.”
The PPP model will bring in global best practices which is going to unlock huge potential for trade enhancement in both Pandu and Dhubri ports. The various charges for loading and unloading of cargo were also decided with due consultation with the stakeholders and the rates were fixed by IWAI. These rates include advanced mechanical handling equipment to increase the efficiency of the loading and unloading of cargo at terminals. The present system will usher in a more transparent and professional logistics system. It is to be noted that if the MCRCV is not met by the operator, then financial penalty will be imposed along with reduction of contract period.