'Pleasure' trip or what?

'Pleasure' trip or what?

Just two weeks before going back to the navy, the Chittagong Port Authority chairman went on an eight-day official visit to South Africa and Morocco apparently to gather knowledge on how to improve the port's operation.

Questions have been raised over the trip as CPA Chairman Rear Admiral M Khaled Iqbal will have only six days, upon his return, to implement the things learnt in the overseas visit.

A number of officials at the Chittagong port have cast doubts about the outcome of the trip, saying nothing much could be learnt from visits to the South African and Moroccan ports since those are not as developed as the European and US ports.

A delegation that includes Khaled is on a visit to the Port of Cape Town in South Africa and the Port of Tanger-Med in Morocco from January 16 to 23. Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan is heading the team.

In a letter to the CPA on December 24 last year, the shipping ministry also included Shajahan's son, an Awami League MP's son, and the CPA chief medical officer in the 15-member team.

Their inclusion in the team surprised many of the port officials, who say the sons of the minister and the lawmaker, and the medical officer have nothing to do with the port's development work.

Besides, five members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Shipping Ministry, which oversees the port's operation, were included in the team, raising questions about conflict of interest.

Members of a parliamentary standing committee cannot go on any foreign trip whose expenses are borne by an organisation the House body oversees, according to parliamentary affairs experts.

The CPA is bearing the costs of the ongoing visit, and it has already released Tk 95 lakh for the purpose. The total expenses will be tallied after the delegation returns.

On January 30, Khaled will hand over the responsibility to the new CPA chairman and go back to the navy, sources said.

Earlier on January 2, the public administration ministry appointed CPA member (engineer) Commodore Zulfikar Aziz as the new chairman.

Despite repeated attempts, Khaled could not be reached for comments.

Two of the delegation members opted out of the trip. They are Maj (retd) Rafiqul Islam, chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Shipping Ministry, and Kallal Kumar Chakraborty, a deputy secretary.

Contacted, Rafiqul said he is in favour of visiting developed seaports to get firsthand experience of how those work.

If we visit ports of world standards in Europe or even in Asia, we will be able to utilise the experience for developing our seaports.

Asked why he didn't join the trip, the AL lawmaker avoided giving a reply.

Sources close to Rafiqul, however, said that he considered the visit unnecessary, as the ports to be visited by the team are not that developed.

At a recent meeting of the parliamentary body, Rafiqul expressed resentment that some persons, who are not related to the port's operation, were included in the delegation, according to sources.

Talking to this correspondent, former member of the CPA Board Hadi Hossain Babul said Khaled's visit to the African ports would be of no use, rather it would be sightseeing, as he will soon hand over his responsibility to a new CPA chairman.

He also said only those directly involved in the port's operation should have been included in the team.

Hadi pointed out that private operators should be engaged in providing services, such as operating the terminals, for upgrading the port's capacity and efficiency.

Southeast Asian and European ports are engaging globally renowned private operators on a large scale in such jobs. We should gather knowledge on those ports,” Hadi said while explaining why the visit to the two African ports would not be so fruitful.

The ex-CPA Board member, however, said the African ports also engage private operators but on a small scale.

In terms of annual handling of containers, Chittagong port secured the 71st position among the top 100 container ports in the world, according to the 2017 ranking of Lloyd's List, the world's oldest journal on port and shipping.

The Chittagong port handled around 25 lakh TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit) containers last year.

The Port of Cape Town couldn't make it to the list while the Port of Tanger-Med, which handled 29 lakh TEU containers in 2016, ranked 51st.

The Port of Cape Town handled nine lakh TEU containers in fiscal 2013-2014. Chittagong port handled 17. 31 lakh TEU containers in 2014.

The delegation visiting the two African ports includes Md Abdus Sattar, deputy secretary at the shipping ministry; Mohammad Jahangir Alam Khan, senior information and public relations officer at the ministry; MM Tarikul Islam, private secretary to the shipping minister; Md Omar Faruk, secretary of the CPA; Mosharraf Hossain, chief medical officer of the CPA; Commodore M Jahangir Alam, chairman of Payra Port Authority; and Md Solaiman Alam Seth, honorary consul of South Africa.

Parliamentary body members Talukdar Abdul Khalek, Nurul Islam Sujan, Habibar Rahman and Momotaj Begum are also in the team.

Shajahan's son Ashibur Rahman, Momotaj's son Abdullah Al Jubayer, and Md Solaiman are supposed to bear their expenses for the trip, sources said.

The delegation will have to submit a report to the shipping ministry within 15 days of its return.


Bullet train: Japan ahead of India

Japanese steel and engineering companies are in the driver’s seat to bag major supply contracts for a $17 billion Indian bullet train, several sources said, undermining a key component of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s economic policy — a push to ‘Make in India’.

Japan is funding most of the project, and Japanese companies are likely to supply at least 70% of the core components of the rail line, said five sources in New Delhi with direct knowledge of the matter.

A spokesman for Modi’s office declined comment.

A Japanese transport ministry official involved in the project said the two countries were still working out a strategy for the supply of key components, and would unveil a plan for procurements around July. The official spoke on condition of anonymity.

The September 2017 agreement between Japan and India for the bullet train project included two clauses — the promotion of ‘Make in India’ and ‘Transfer of Technology’ — through which New Delhi had hoped to set up manufacturing facilities in the country, generate jobs and get a toehold in Japanese technology.

Modi faces a general election in 2019 and is under pressure to provide more jobs to millions of unemployed in India. Critics also say the bullet train is wasteful and that the money could be better used elsewhere.

The Japanese have reservations on certain issues because they have a concern that there is a difference in the culture and systems of Japan from the culture and systems in India,” said Achal Khare, the managing director of National High Speed Rail Corp Ltd (NHSRCL), the agency tasked to execute the bullet train project.

The work culture is very different,” he told Reuters.

Khare did not elaborate but two Indian railways officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said their Japanese counterparts had raised questions about efficiency in Indian companies and their ability to meet timelines.

The World Bank currently ranks India 100th out of 190 nations on the ease of doing business, giving it relatively low marks for starting a business, enforcing contracts and dealing with construction permits.

Tomoyuki Nakano, director for international engineering affairs in the railway bureau at Japan’s transport ministry, said the issue was that Indian companies had no experience or technologies specialising in high-speed railway systems at present.

I don’t think Japanese are concerned about a difference in the work culture,” Nakano said. and other Japanese officials said efforts were continuing to fulfil the ‘Make in India’ component of the agreement by promoting collaborations between companies from the two countries.

Still, several Indian officials said it was by and large accepted that Indian companies would not have a major part to play in the bullet train project.

Japan will get major leeway because the bullet train is largely funded by a 50-year loan provided by its government, said a close aide of Modi, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

At this stage to expect Indian companies to have a bigger share in manufacturing appears to be a little difficult,” said a senior official at the Indian government’s policy think-tank, NITI Aayog, who is involved in the negotiations.

Modi’s flagship ‘Make in India’ initiative aims to lift the share of manufacturing in India’s $2 trillion economy to 25 percent and create 100 million jobs by 2022.

However, midway through Modi’s five-year term, manufacturing was still at 17% of India’s GDP in the 2016/17 financial year from 15% previously.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe laid the foundation stone for India’s first bullet train in September last year. will link Mumbai with Ahmedabad, the largest commercial city in Modi’s home state Gujarat.

Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metal Corp , Japan’s biggest steelmaker, and other companies like JFE Holdings, Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd, Toshiba Corp and Hitachi Ltd are likely to bid for various contracts, said three senior Indian government officials directly involved in the project.

Nippon Steel said it would not comment on specific projects.

JFE, Hitachi and Toshiba said they were interested in the project but had not finalised plans, including any possibilities of joint ventures with Indian firms.

Mitsubishi Heavy said it had not decided if it wanted to be involved.

The sole collaboration aimed at the bullet train project is between Kawasaki Heavy Industries and India’s Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd , which aims to win carriage orders.

Japanese government officials have asked for more bullet train corridors in India before transferring technology, three senior Indian officials said.

But New Delhi is unlikely to announce any new projects until the final cost and commercial feasibility of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad link is clear, the officials said.

It’s like a chicken and egg situation on technology. The Japanese want an economy of scale and business but the Indian view is that India is a big market that once this market is explored the business will automatically be generated,” said Khare from NHSRCL.

New Delhi has tried to help Indian steel companies grab a slice of the pie.

The Indian government last year mediated negotiations between Nippon Steel and India’s Jindal Steel and Power Ltd to set up a joint venture to manufacture rails, but the talks fell through after the Japanese major raised quality concerns, three sources in New Delhi said.

State-owned Steel Authority of India (SAIL), which for decades has been the main supplier of rails to Indian Railways, was also overlooked by Japanese companies due to quality concerns, the sources said.

Nippon Steel declined comment and while Jindal and SAIL did not reply to e-mails seeking comment.

Left with little choice, Indian firms will now largely provide raw materials like cement and supply manpower for the assembly of rails, the sources said.

India’s UltraTech Cement Ltd, Larsen & Toubro Ltd, Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd and Ambuja Cements Ltd are among those in the race for the supply of construction materials and power, the two Indian railways officials said.

These companies did not respond to Reuters’ requests for comment.


Jolt To Make In India? Japanese Cos May Bag $17 Bn Bullet Train Deal, Local Firms Only To Supply Manpower

Jolt To Make In India? Japanese Cos May Bag $17 Bn Bullet Train Deal, Local Firms Only To Supply Manpower

New Delhi/Tokyo: Japanese steel and engineering companies are in the driver’s seat to bag major supply contracts for a $17 billion Indian bullet train, several sources said, undermining a key component of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s economic policy - a push to ‘Make in India’.

Japan is funding most of the project, and Japanese companies are


Four judges have a plan for CJI Dipak Misra

The four Supreme Court judges, who last week made public their grievances against Chief Justice Dipak Misra, met late Wednesday evening with two other Supreme Court judges and finalised a proposal which they hope will break the current impasse, sources told The Indian Express.

The proposal, expected to be handed over to the CJI Thursday, deals with formalising a “rational, orderly and transparent system” to allocate cases to different benches of the Supreme Court.

Its details were not available but sources said the idea is to insulate the roster from allegations of favour.

This meeting came at the end of a day when “Court Number 2” of the Supreme Court did not function due to “the unavailability” of Justice J Chelameswar who took the day off.

Result: a meeting, which had been decided on Tuesday morning, between the four judges (Justices Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan Lokur and Kurian Joseph) and Chief Justice Misra could not be held.

Instead, a meeting took place of the four judges at the residence of Justice Madan Lokur. Also present were Justice U U Lalit and Justice D Y Chandrachud.

This proposal to the Chief Justice — who at the behest of three other colleagues, had taken the initiative to invite the four senior judges to his chamber on Tuesday morning — concerns a reformed system the judges feel needs to be put in place to dispel questions over the manner in which certain cases are being allocated.

If the CJI is open to consider this central point, sources said, it is believed that the four judges are willing to take the discussion forward.

Sources said the CJI had so far “not made any proposal of his own.

Earlier in the evening, around 4. 15 pm, members of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) had met the CJI and discussed a range of housekeeping issues including a suggestion to have “a roster of allotment of matters, like in the Delhi High Court.

Interestingly, Justice Misra was Chief in the Delhi HC when he was elevated to the apex court.

The Supreme Court, unlike the case in smaller countries, constitutes several benches which hear matters and there has been a practice of cases being assigned to benches “as per their expertise.

For example, judges regularly dealing with criminal matters are expected to get criminal cases. And, in the formation of Constitution benches of five judges or more, the five seniormost judges were usually included. A system looking at randomised allocation of cases would also take away any charge of “selecting” a particular bench.

Meanwhile, Wednesday’s weekly lunch of the full Supreme Court (all judges) was not a complete one as three judges, Justices Chelameswar, Sharad Bobde and Adarsh Goel were absent. Before the meeting, Justice Gogoi dropped by Justice Chelameswar’s home to look him up.

The Supreme Court.


CJI Misra meets 4 rebel judges

Chief Justice Dipak Misra is meeting the four dissenting judges, Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph, today in an attempt to resolve the Supreme Court crisis.

The meeting comes nearly a week after the four senior-most judges went public with their concerns regarding "selective" allocation of sensitive cases to certain benches.

It was expected that Chief Justice Dipak Misra would meet the four dissenting judges over lunch yesterday (Wednesday) but Justice Chelameswar had taken a day off and therefore the meeting could not take place.

On Tuesday, Chief Justice Misra met the four judges over a 15-minute coffee meeting which was mediated by three top court judges. According to sources, CJI Misra and the rebel judges discussed all outstanding issues, point of contentions and differences at the meeting.

At today's meeting, the four dissenting judges are likely to reiterate their demands, and present a draft memorandum to Chief Justice Misra. CJI Misra may also present a plan of action to the dissenting judges to resolve the deadlock.

CJI Dipak Misra's plan may include how mentioning of cases takes place and how crucial cases are allocated to Supreme Court benches.

The major sticking point in the crisis within the top judiciary is the allocation of cases, especially those with far-reaching political implications, like the Judge Loya death case or the Aadhaar matter.

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