Lt governor Kiran Bedi has sought the Puducherry government to equip the port department with adequate manpower which has necessary technical expertise and also provide infrastructural facilities to the department before resuming movement of cargo from the Puducherry port.
Bedi said with 64% of the sanctioned technical posts lying vacant, the port department was ill-equipped to resume cargo movement. There is no full-time director for the department and two of three assistant engineer posts and nine of the 14 junior engineer posts in the port department were lying vacant, she said.
“[For the] past one year I have been requesting the Puducherry government to find a full-time director of ports and fill up other vacancies, but to little avail. Such life-altering project cannot be taken up in a haphazard way. They have to be holistically implemented by taking into account all aspects,” Bedi said.
The government’s efforts to appoint a qualified personnel from the Union shipping ministry as director of ports on deputation basis turned futile. Three private candidates who applied for the post did not possess necessary experience. The government decided to appoint former public works department chief engineer P Swaminathan as director of port on contract basis. Bedi cited relevant rules and regulations to underline that vital posts like director of ports cannot be filled on contract basis.
Poor strength of technical staff will hamper port operations to a larger extent. It is therefore humbly requested that these posts are filled up on a war footing basis, said a note on the preparedness to resume cargo handling at Puducherry port.
The government has not taken any initiatives to lay an alternate bypass road and evolve plans to regulate traffic movement once the port becomes operational. “Basic infrastructural facilities are not in place. A bypass road to be taken up yet. As this will generate additional heavy traffic testing all culverts or small bridges for road carrying capacity,” she said.
Bedi said the government has proposed to shift the fishing vessels from the cargo berth but did not mention the site. The port department has not procured point of sale gadgets to collect vehicle entry fees and weight charges among others through digital mode. The government has not evolved a comprehensive plan for digitising the port surveillance with a well-equipped control room. “Twelve cameras have been installed at the zone where cargo shall be handled and cleared. Additionally the port users shall also post their own security personnel to ensure safety of their cargo,” said the note.