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NTPC’s transloading of coal suffers a setback

The Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT)’s efforts to get shippers to transload dry bulk cargo from mother vessels at the anchorage in Sandheads suffered a major setback on Thursday after a ship, loaded with nearly 74,000 tonnes of imported thermal coal for the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC)’s power plants at Farakka and Kahalgaon, decided to sail to the private port of Dhamra in Odhisa’s northeastern coast.

The MV Stx Mutiara was anchored at the Sandheads since October 12. Though transloading of coal started soon thereafter, the Directorate General of Shipping stopped the operation as the barges being used didn’t possess the requisite certificates to operate at sea.

“This was an unfortunate incident. The Haldia Dock Complex (HDC), which is already facing a crisis, lost 74,000 tonnes of cargo. It will also send out a wrong message for importers who had hoped to transload cargo from mother vessels at the Sandheads in the future. Transloading is the future of HDC and we are already planning barge jetties for this. This was a clear case of poor planning on the part of the agency entrusted with transloading operations.

They should have known what class of barges to use. They didn’t even seek permission from the port, otherwise this incident wouldn’t have taken place,” a KoPT source said.

A highly-placed source in NTPC, however, said that the incident would have no impact on the company’s preparations to use the inland waterways to transport an additional three million tonnes of thermal coal to its power plants from January. The power major has already tied-up with barge operators for this and a jetty is being built at Farakka. A transloader will also be placed at the Sandheads for this.

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