Chennai: A city court in Chennai has dismissed a petition filed by M/s Marg Swarnabhoomi Port Private Limited challenging Tamil Nadu Maritime Board's move to cancel the approval granted to the firm for setting up a port in Mugaiyur, Kanchipuram district.
In the petition, M/s Marg Swarnabhoomi Port Private Limited, Kottivakkam submitted that it is a subsidiary company of M/s Marg Limited, a leading infrastructure development company. The group operates fully functional 'Marg Karaikal Port' with a capacity of 21 million metric tonnes per annum.
In 2008, the Tamil Nadu Maritime Board, (TNMB) had proposed to establish a captive ship repair facility at Mugaiyur coast, about 90 km from Chennai. The firm approached the board seeking permission to take up the project and on February 11, 2009, the board granted in-principal approval to the firm for establishing the port at Mugaiyur. The firm commenced the preliminary works relating to the project work and submitted applications to various authorities.
After reviewing the project on October 21, 2013, the Board granted time up to December 31, 2013, with a condition to effect financial closure and failing which refused to extend the time limit. The firm sought more time since getting necessary permission and license from various authorities would take more than a year.
However, without giving opportunity the board in March 2014 had arbitrarily withdrawn the permissions. The firm spent over `30 crore for many surveys, reports license fees, administrative expenses, to commence the project work. Aggrieved over this, the petition filed to direct the board to withdraw the cancellation order.
In its reply board said it granted the in-principle approval to the company subject to fulfilling the terms and conditions. The government allotted 37.12 acres for the project along the coast.
The firm was asked to submit proof of financial closure and fund mobilisation including an agreement with the funding agencies within one yearfrom the date of declaration of the port limits of "Mugaiyur" on November 23, 2009. It also had outstanding to the tune of `17.65 lakh as on March 31, 2014. Despite issuing various reminders, the company had neither replied, nor paid the outstanding dues.
The board gave sufficient time to the firm for taking up the project. However, the company had not shown any progress. Hence, it cancelled the license and withdrawn the permission. When the matter came up for hearing before the Fast Track Court-II, the V Assistant Judge Dr R Sathya said board sent several reminders to M/s Marg Swarnabhoomi Port Private Limited in respect of financial closure and gave several opportunities until December 2013. Finally, the Board cancelled the approval on March 4, 2014. Dismissing the petition, the judge said the firm failed to prove arbitrariness (or) malafide intention on the part of the Board.