restrictions imposed on entry of ships at Haldia dock complex due to the
presence of lock gates may be relaxed shortly if the trials that are on at the
port for the last few days on the advice of Indian Institute of technology,
Madras succeed. Once the experiment
succeeds wider ship can also enter the Haldia dock system leading to increase
lock gate at Haldia Dock Complex (HDC), one of the last such
structures remaining in any port in the world, may soon be a thing of the past.
Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT)
will soon try out an experiment to find out what happens if the lock that
controls the movement of ships into the port confines is left open. This is as
per recommendations of experts from IIT, Madras, who were engaged to suggest
measures for more traffic at Haldia.
“On an experimental basis, we shall leave the lock gate open for some time.
Meanwhile, experts will study the effects. They will check whether there is
siltation inside the port or any problems due to the tides. If it is found that
the port can function well without the lock gate, we shall breach the wall,”
said a spokesman of the Kolkata port trust.
According to KoPT officials, the ports of Kolkata and Haldia are the only ones
in the country to use locks to control the level of water at the berths. As
these ports are riverine, the locks helped in maintaining a certain draught at
the berths even during low tide. However, the locks have disadvantages. Not
only do they restrict the movement of wider ships into the port system, they
can only be operated a certain number of times every day. All ships have to
enter or leave the port during this period. Apart from India, only the port of
Antwerp has a lock system.
Due to this restriction on movement, ships are sometimes delayed and demurrage
has to be paid by importers, raising costs of transactions. Officers are
keeping their fingers crossed on the outcome of the experiment though. One of
them pointed out that there may be excessive siltation at the berths due to the
tidal nature of the river.
Another KoPT official said that a drop in draught may endanger ships berthed
inside the port. Others, however, said that it is an experiment that may assist
the port in increasing cargo.