Land leased at Indian ports continues to remain unusedThe government of Nepal has failed to utilise land leased at Kolkata and Haldia ports in India for screening and storing export and import cargoes.
The government of Nepal has failed to utilise land leased at Kolkata and Haldia ports in India for screening and storing export and import cargoes.
Nepal Transit Warehousing Company (NTWC), a government entity under the Ministry of Commerce, leased 4,886 square metres of land at Kolkata Port about 45 years ago. Likewise, it leased 6,985 square metres at Haldia Port about 34 years ago.
The property was acquired to facilitate Nepal’s third country exports and imports besides providing warehouse space. However, no warehouses have been built at
Kolkata Port handles the highest amount of Nepal’s ocean freight shipments to and from third countries. Although NTWC maintains a branch office on the leased land at Kolkata Port which is staffed by about half a dozen employees, the property is not being used.
NTWC also has a branch office at Haldia Port which performs tasks like clearing and forwarding cargo. However, the office does not handle cargo like chemical fertiliser, coal, gypsum and crude oil imported from third countries. The office has not been able to handle storage for bulk cargo that requires huge space.
The government of Nepal has been paying IRs50,000 per year for the land in Kolkata and IRs127,000 per year for the land in Haldia in rentals.
Consul General Yek Narayan Aryal at the Consulate General of Nepal in Kolkata, said, “Although the lands leased at Kolkata and Haldia ports are not being used for cargo storage, our office is making efforts to utilise them for other purposes. The office has asked for bushes to be cleared on the land at Kolkata Port in order to bring it into temporary operation within six months.”
Aryal said, “If storage facilities along with screening are available at these two ports, Nepali importers and exporters will not have to pay the huge fees they are currently paying for cargo storage. They will also have to pay low demurrage and detention charges. The offices at the two ports would also jointly earn around Rs700 million as fees for providing various cargo facilities.”
The land plots at Kolkata and Haldia are required to operate container freight stations (CFS) for receiving cargoes to be packed into containers. The CFS provides traders with facilities such as container storage for bulk cargoes and also proper unpacking and delivery.
“If CFS are available at Kolkata and Haldia ports, especially for goods purchased for government entities like the Nepal Army and Nepal Telecom, carriers would have to pay low charges compared to what they currently pay for the port facilities provided by the Indian government,” Aryal said.
Most cargoes dispatched from Kolkata Port to Nepal enter the country at the Birgunj border point, which is around 740 km from Kolkata Port. Haldia is located about 125 km from Kolkata Port.
Aryal said that a building plan for a CFS had been sent to Kolkata Metropolis. He added, “As soon as the plan is approved, the Consulate General will coordinate with the concerned stakeholders of the government of Nepal to build a CFS on the leased land at Kolkata Port.”