The Supreme Court has appointed a high-level expert committee to study the issues involved in allowing the Chennai Port Trust to handle coal and iron ore.
“We have filed a special leave petition in the Supreme Court to review the Madras high court’s judgment banning the port from handling coal and iron ore. The apex court has formed a high-level committee to review the judgment,” Atulya Misra, chairman, Chennai Port Trust, said.
The Madras high court in May last year had banned handling of these cargoes at the port stating it was creating pollution.
The committee includes secretaries from the shipping and environment ministry, chief secretary of Tamil Nadu, and officials from TN Pollution Control Board, Central Pollution Control Board, IIT Madras and National Environmental Engineering Research Institute.
The committee is expected to submit its report in July.
“We are not saying we want to handle coal and iron ore as we handled earlier, but we have around 7,000 workers at the port and there are issues of redeployment following the ban order. We are now trying to differentiate cargo and pollution,” said Misra.
Prior to the ban, Chennai port handled around 10 million tonne iron ore and eight million tonne coal. It was earning revenues of around Rs 226 crore.
Misra said the port was now looking at handling more containerised cargo, edible oil, project cargo, sugar, fertiliser and others. The dusty cargo was now being handled by Ennore Port, near here, in which Chennai port holds a third of equity.
He said despite the loss of two major cargoes, the port has earned a provisional operating income of Rs 620 crore in 2011-12 as against Rs 683.91 crore.
The provisional total income last financial year stood at Rs 830 crore (operating income plus finance and miscellaneous income) as against Rs 875.76 crore earned in 2010-11.