Seven of the 12 major ports are run by officers from the Indian Railways cadre while four are headed by IAS officers. Port officers say they are “systematically been deprived” of selection to top posts.
“Major port trusts have become the new hunting ground for Railway officers,” lamented a port official.
The rules framed by the Shipping Ministry in January 2008, on the appointment of chairmen/deputy chairmen in major port trusts, had said: “…it has been decided that in the six major ports in Category I (Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Jawaharlal Nehru, Visakhapatnam and Kandla), two posts of chairman/deputy chairman will be filled from among port officers. Similarly, three posts of chairman and deputy chairman in Category II ports (Paradip, Cochin, Mormugao, Tuticorin and New Mangalore) will be filled from among port officers.”
World Bank report
The rules were framed after the World Bank favoured such a plan in its ‘India Port Sector Strategy Report’.
“The present system of lAS recruitment is frustrating for port professionals,” the World Bank wrote. “There are advantages in the employment, as chairmen, of senior civil servants…However, to be effective and accepted, they must have the long-term development of ports, in all its many facets, as their primary goal, rather than their career as senior civil servants.
“A mixed solution is therefore recommended for consideration. First, chairmen should increasingly be recruited from among ports/shipping professionals. Second, the position of deputy chairman, recruited only among professionals of the port industry, should be upgraded, with increased possibility of acceding to the position of chairman.”
From the Railway cadre are I Jeyakumar, Chairman of Mormugao Port Trust and additional in-charge of VO Chidambaranar Port Trust; Rinkesh Roy, who heads Paradip Port Trust and is additional in-charge of Kamarajar Port; P Raveendran, Chief Executive of Chennai Port Trust and additional in-charge of Cochin Port Trust; and Vinit Kumar, the newly appointed full-time Chairman of Kolkata Port Trust.
Currently, there are no port cadre officers eligible for selection to the top post. MA Bhaskarachar, PC Parida and SAC Bose, the last three port cadre officers, retired recently as Chairmen of Kamarajar Port, New Mangalore Port Trust and VOCPT, respectively.
A port officer can become a head of department (HoD) after 15 years of service. He/she needs another five years as HoD to become empanelled for the deputy chairman’s post.
HODs with 15 years’ experience are still waiting to be promoted as deputy chairman in Category II ports.
A port cadre deputy chairman in a Category II port should work as deputy chairman in a Category I port for two years to become eligible for chairman of a Category II port. He/she needs a further two years’ experience to become eligible for chairman of a Category I port. These rules, however, don’t apply to Railway officers.
“One can see how norms are framed systematically to deprive port officers from being made chairmen and deputy chairmen. It is practically impossible for port officers to become the chairman of a Category I port,” added the port officer.
To rub it in, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) and the Public Enterprises Selection Board (PESB) excluded deputy chairmen (from port officers) of major port trusts from applying for the post of CMD at Kamarajar Port.
This was set aside by the Chennai High Court two months ago on a petition filed by one of the port officers. The DoPT and the PESB are now looking to challenge the high court order.