With the striking organizations led by the Paradip Port Stevedores Association and the Port authorities hardening their stand, there was no sign of any resolution as cargo handling at the port continued to be affected for the sixth day on Monday even as the district administration convened a meeting on Tuesday to try and resolve the crisis.
While the Jagatsinghpur district collector has convened a meeting on Tuesday noon, the PPSA has decided to conduct its meeting in the morning in which a team of the All India Stevedores Association led by its president Krishna Kumar will attend to finalise its strategy.
The port chairman M V K Babu, talking to a reporters, said he had appealed to the stevedores to resume work but they had not responded. The port is free to take action as per rules, he warned while stating that he would also think in terms of floating open tender for stevedoring work and opt for the lowest rates.
The PPSA, on its part, hit back saying that the port authorities were the ones who are adamant. All that we are saying is get rid of Seaways Shipping and Logistic (SSL) and engage any other stevedore from amongst the panel of PPSA members. The moment this is done, all the 10 organisations which are on strike will resume work, said the PPSA while alleging a deeper conspiracy in the decisions taken by the port authorities. We will move the state and the Union government and seek justice, said PPSA sources on Monday.
The PPSA says till date the guiding principle has been that a stevedore has to be the member of PPSA before undataking any work in Paradip Port. The SSL is not a member and it is based outside Odisha. We are doing our best to protect the interest and livelihood of Odia people and the state government should protect us, said the PPSA.
Meanwhile the Jagatsinghpur district collector, Bijay Ketan Upadhaya has convened a meeting tomorrow to discuss the matter with PPSA, PPT, SSL and other stakeholders including Jindal Steel and Power Ltd who has engaged SSL for its cargo operations.
Upadhaya said he has called the stakeholders, the SP and the Chairman of Paradip Port to try and arrive at an amicable settlement. He felt a prolonged tussle could lead to a law and order situation in the area. Hence, all sides should do their best for an early end to the dispute.
It may be recalled that on Friday, tripartite meeting between PPT, PPSA and SSL held by the additional district magistrate had failed to yield any result.
After failure of talk, SSL had sought the intervention of PPT authority for giving permission to allow outside dumpers for unloading of cargo from MV-Harm ship which has been docked at CQ- 1 berth of port from last Wednesday.
The cargo operation resumed in one berth with heavy deployment of police and CISF personnel and with the help of dumpers from outside the area. The SSL undertook the work amidst tight security.