MUMBAI: The Government has asked Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust, which manages India’s biggest container port, to wind up its new posh city office .
The 7,000-sq feet office on the top floor (31st) of the World Trade Centre at Cuffe Parade in South Mumbai was opened in May last year, to facilitate the port’s expansion plans.
This is the port’s second city office. JNPT has another office in Nariman Point, from where it has been operating for more than two decades.
The Shipping Ministry has now directed JNPT that all its senior officers should operate only from the port premises at Nhava Sheva Island.
Currently the Chairman, Deputy Chairman and other senior officials operate from the city office two days a week.
A Ministry official said the decision to close the city office was taken to avoid the “inconvenience in carrying the files” between the two offices. By ferry-boat, it takes one hour to reach the port from the city office.
A port official said the decision follows the Ministry’s view that senior officials should be working from the port premises and not from the marketing offices. Other Major Ports would also be directed to wind up their marketing offices, he said.
The monthly rent for the new office is said to be around Rs 14 lakh. “The cost is not the issue, it is a policy decision,” said the port official.
Port users, however, believe that the decision to shut the office is part of a move to reverse some of the decisions taken by the former port Chairman, L. Radhakrishnan, who left the port in April, before completing his term, to take charge as Home Secretary in Kerala.
It was when Radhakrishnan was Chairman, JNPT took the decision to have a second office in the city. The port was planning new projects, including the mega fourth container terminal. He wanted a large office to manage the new projects. However, disputes and litigations delayed most of the projects. The bid for the fourth container terminal had to be terminated as the winner –PSA international of Singapore refused to sign the concession agreement.
The port trust has now called fresh bids for the fourth terminal.
The government-owed JN Port, and its two private terminals together handled 4. 26 million containers (TEUs) last fiscal, nearly 50 per cent of the country’s containerised cargo.