There is no need for informing the government to conduct a feasibility study to set up an inland container port in Narayanganj, said Indian High Commission in Dhaka and Kumudini Ports Limited on Thursday. The Indian High Commission has already
sent its clarification to the Foreign Ministry.On May 10, the Indian External Affairs Ministry posted an advertisement on its website inviting tenders for techno-commercial feasibility study for setting up an inland container port at Narayanganj causing a stir on Bangladesh media.
Quoting Foreign Ministry officials, it has been reported that Bangladesh was in complete dark about the development and that the Foreign Ministry sought explanation from the Indians.
While talking to The Independent on Thursday, Railway Advisor & Counsellor (Commercial) at the Indian High Commission in Dhaka Chandrima Roy and Chief Executive Officer of the Kumudini Ports Limited Mohammad Farooque said that permission or appraisal was not necessary for a feasibility study.
Upon the completion of the feasibility study if the concerned Indian company and Kumudini come to an agreement to go ahead with the investment then they will follow the rules and procedures of the country, they said.
The Shipping Ministry of Bangladesh has given Kumudini and four other local companies to construct inland container ports in Narayanganj, they added.
“There is no necessity to inform the Foreign Ministry (of Bangladesh) about a feasibility study. I informed the Foreign Ministry about this on Wednesday,” Chandrima Roy said.
After the completion of the study if there is an agreement on investment between the companies involved, then everything will be done as per the rules and procedures of the land, she said.
Roy also said, “There is no political connotation. If there was a political decision and if it was loan or grant we would have gone through the Foreign Ministry and Economic Relations Division.”
Kumudini has approached the Container Corporation of India Limited for a joint venture and the Indian enterprise has decided to conduct a feasibility study before taking any decision to invest, she said.
This is in very preliminary stage and the feasibility study involves about 10 lakh Indian rupees, said the Counsellor.
The MEA has just facilitated an Indian company as it would do for any Indian company anywhere in the world, she said.
“We want to increase trade,” she added.
Roy also said that if the situation was reverse, Bangladesh Foreign Ministry would have done the same thing without informing the Indian Ministry of External Affairs. She cited an example where little while the Indian government had facilitated Indian life insurance companies who wanted to have joint ventures with Bangladeshi insurance companies.
Asked if there was any precedence where the MEA invited tender for a study to set up something in a foreign country, Roy said, “There may not be such thing with regard to tender.
She insisted that no impropriety had been done in this regard.
Kumudini Ports Limited Chief Executive Officer Mohammad Farooque said that nothing improper had been done and no law or rule had been broken.
Kumudini and four other companies – Rupayan, AK Khan, Summit and Ananda – have been given permission by the Shipping Ministry to establish inland container ports, he said, adding that Kumudini had obtained the permission in 2011.
Rupayan has already started a joint venture with a European company, he said.
Farooque said that the Indian company was not the only one Kumudini had been in touch for a joint venture.
It has also been in touch companies from Denmark, Holland and England in this regard, he said.
“A feasibility study is just the beginning. There is no need to inform the government prior to a feasibility study. After the feasibility study we will decide whether we will go ahead with the investment. After that, procedural matters with regards to different departments will come into play,” he said.
The CEO also said, “There is no hide and seek. You cannot hide a container port.”
-With The Independent input