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Gadkari says alternatives to port corporatisation underway

Inauguration of Oil Spill Response Centre

Mumbai: With employees opposing ports corporatisation, Union Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari today said attempts are being made to find alternatives to upgrade ports and their services, beyond bringing them under the purview of the Companies Act as announced in the Budget.

“Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had told us (in the Budget) about the Companies Act, but we are looking at other alternatives beyond the Companies Act to modernise and develop the ports,” Gadkari told reporters at a Mumbai Port Trust event here.

He said his ministry is in discussions and seeking guidance from the Finance Ministry on the alternatives, but did not elaborate on what those alternatives might be.

In the Budget, Jaitley had announced the government intention to corporatise ports, saying, “ports need to attract investments as well as leverage the huge land resource lying unused with them and to enable us to do so, ports in the public sector will be encouraged to corporatise and become companies under the Company’s Act.”

Managements of major ports, including the largest container port JNPT, have welcomed the move. However, employee unions are opposed to the move and threatened to go on an indefinite strike, which was cancelled following interventions by labour commissioners and a specially constituted panel.

“All the five employee unions are still opposed to corporatisation, but we have been assured by the Indian Ports Association that our interests will be protected,” the All-India Port & Dock Workers Federation had said in a statement after withdrawing the strike call in March.

Gadkari today sought to allay the fears, asserting that equity will not change hands under the corporatisation move.

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