At a time when the experts of the Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT) and the Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA) are sitting at the drawing board, chalking out ways to solve the impasse that presently prevails over the KMDA’s construction of a water intake jetty which is said to have become a hindrance for turning of ships entering and leaving the Kolkata Port, port experts explained that if the ships get stuck at the mentioned point, navigation, in and out of the Kolkata port, in that shipping channel, can become temporarily impossible, leading to severe losses.

It was yesterday that KMDA and KoPT engineers carried out a joint inspection at a project site of the KMDA, south of Botanical Garden, where a 50m water intake jetty was being built by KMDA for the Howrah Municipal Corporation (HMC) to provide at least 20 MGD water to residents of Howrah. The Kolkata Port has stopped the work, citing safety issues that concern turning of ships since the construction is within the radius of the shipping channel and is posing an obstacle. Port experts have highlighted that the appropriate solution to the impasse is necessary and chances cannot be taken in such matters. Sources in the Kolkata Port told The Statesman, “The point near Nazirgunj jetty where the water intake jetty is coming up, is near the Garden Reach anchorage point which is vital to the Kolkata Port.

All incoming ships stop at the anchorage point before they are towed into the docks- Kidderpore and Netaji Subhas. The dock pilots guide the ship towards the respective docks from the anchorage point. The outgoing ships, after leaving the docks, again return to the anchorage point from where a river pilot along with the captain of the ship, guides it further out. It is at this point that many ships require turning since many a time while entering the docks, they are towed in from the rear end. Hence, while leaving, it has to turn around.”

“The whole process is a technically sensitive and intricate operation and a little mistake can lead to severe damage to the ships and can further lead to choking of the entire channel, making navigation impossible in the river. The ships need a certain radius to turn around which in turn requires a certain amount of clearance in its immediate surrounding area. Hence, proper study and meticulous examination are needed before taking any specific decisions.