In a controversial move, the Gujarat government has decided to allow Ahir Salt and Allied Products Pvt Ltd (ASAPPL) to build a jetty near the Kandla port in Kutch. There have been allegations that the private jetty has been illegally granted highlighting collusion between the Gujarat government and the private company. Notably, Kandla Port is owned by the Central Government and has alleged that the jetty is illegal.
The bone of contention between the involved parties is over the allotment of a portion of the land allotted for salt production to the jetty.
As reported on the Gujarati portal, VTVGujarati.com, the Gujarat government has granted permission to build jetty that will have liquid and dry storage terminals. A total of 44 tanks will be installed here with a total capacity of 92488 kl. For this project Ahir Salt took 1317.56 acres of land leased from Gujarat Government for salt production and 94.56 acres of land from that area will be used for the construction of a jetty. The case has now been protested by the Kandla Port alleging that the permission to build the private jetty was illegal.
Kandla port, under the official name Kandla Port Trust repeatedly red-flagged the issue with the Gujarat Maritime Board. Kandla port contested that the construction of this jetty requires the permission of the Central Government. In turn, the Gujarat Maritime Board argued that the 2.1 square miles of land for which it has given permission to the jetty is acquired by the Gujarat government. The approval does not need the permission of the Government of India for the land acquired by the Government of Gujarat.
Silence from Central ship ministry
The News portal has further alleged that a certain group of political leaders and officials are helping the Ahir group. Moreover, the utter silence maintained by the Union Shipping Ministry on the issue favoring a private company is also questionable. It may be noted that the Shipping Ministry controls most of the ports, including the central government-owned Kandla port. The allocation may result in Kandla port losing huge finances. Kandla Port is currently the highest-earning port in India. From here products like petroleum, chemicals, iron, steel, iron machinery are imported and products like salt, textiles, grains are exported.
Gujarat govt. puts the project on hold
After a huge media uproar, the Gujarat government has decided to put on hold the entire project. Further, the approval given for 95 acres of land from salt production land for jetty has also been withheld for the time being. One of the officials privy to the development said, "According to a senior official, there were many controversies in the project which has put it on hold for the time being."
According to sources, after allegations of corruption and malpractice and the accusations that the sitting minister of Kutch and a veteran Gujarat BJP leader were also involved in the whole affair, the state government has decided not to go ahead with the 'controversial project'.