Former Union Minister T.R. Baal
Chennai: Former Union Minister T.R. Baalu on Tuesday accused the Centre of ‘surreptitious attempt’ to divest 100 per cent sell off of the profit earning Kamaraj port near Chennai with a view to benefit vested interests in the sector.
"The Centre’s decision has come as a bolt from the blue for the people of Tamil Nadu since there has been no public debate before taking a plunge in the matter. I do not know whether the state government was taken into confidence before the committee of secretaries on disinvestments", he said. He asked the state government to make it clear if they had given their consent to the decision.
Tamil Nadu had given 3,000 acres of prime industrial land valued presently about Rs 15,000 crores to the port besides providing infrastructure support for the last 18 years. Kamaraj port had earned a profit of Rs 480 crores during the last financial year and had emerged as a multi cargo port handling variety of cargos from petroleum products, coal and general cargo, Baalu said.
He noted that the port had emerged as largest exporter of cars manufactured in Chennai region and it is all set to double the cargo handling capacity to around 90 million tonnes within a year when this shocking decision was taken by the central government.
He alleged that it had become a routine practice of the central government, of late to push through divestment programme in Tamil Nadu without consulting the elected state government. He warned the state government against succumbing to the central government’s pressures on the issue merely to cling on to power.
Baalu also charged the central government of stalling the Sethusamudram project by its lukewarm response till now to find any alternative alignment suggested by the apex court.
He said He also criticised the Union governemnt’s investment in Colombo container terminal and asked, "Is it a not a fact that when India promoted container terminal becomes operational in Colombo Port, no Indian transshipment cargo will move to Colachel port and the project will face a natural death".