Belgium Thursday assured Indian President Pranab Mukherjee it would look into his suggestion for help in developing a new port near Kolkata as the two sides discussed cooperation in new areas like port management.
The President intervened during delegation-level talks with Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo and asked if an arrangement could be worked out for helping the Kolkata Port Trust develop port facilities at Sagar Island, located 80 nautical miles south of Kolkata.
The Belgian side it would consider Mukherjee’s suggestion. New areas of cooperation discussed by the two countries included collaboration in ports given Belgium’s expertise in managing riverine ports, officials said.
Shipping Minister G K Vasan asked Indian Ambassador Dinkar Khullar and P S Raghavan, Special Secretary in the External Affairs Ministry, to follow up the President’s suggestion to see if Belgian dredging companies could be roped in for project near Kolkata.
Khullar, Raghavan and Venu Rajamony, Press Secretary to the President, told reporters that officials had been “asked to take the discussions forward”.
Kolkata Port, India’s only major riverine port, has two dock systems at Kolkata and Haldia. Both systems currently handle around 55 million tons of cargo but due to draft restrictions, large vessels have to offload at other neighbouring ports.