The mood in the Odisha port town of Paradip is turning grey.
Ever since the Adani group bought the neighbouring port of Dhamra last May, people and companies dependent on the port are worried Paradip is being weakened to favour Dhamra. “I handle 70% of the cargo at Paradip. I have 1,000 employees,” said a senior official in Orissa Stevedores, a company which assists with the loading and unloading of cargo from ships. “We will have to shut down if anything happens to Paradip.”
The fears are located not merely in the proximity Gautam Adani, the Chairman of the Adani Group of companies, is alleged to have to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. A clutch of developments in recent months have contributed to them.
Last week, when Mundra overtook Kandla in the first quarter of 2013-14 to become the country’s largest port by tonnage handled, it was as much the result of the Adani Group taking decisions with purpose and strategic intent as the Kandla management demonstrating an inexplicable streak of indecision and inaction. In Gandhidham, the town that services Kandla, the perception among shipping firms and cargo agents is that, this public sector port has been scoring self-goals, ceding business – and tactical advantage – to privately-owned Mundra 60 km away, where the first ship docked just 15 years ago.
i stumbled upon this story while working on a profile of Gautam Adani, one of post-liberalisation India’s largest infrastructure tycoons.
ps – i can now legitimately claim to write on shipping and ports for the economic times.