JNPT scaling new heights, but its Chairman wants to quit


Anil Udhavrao Diggikar, Chairman of Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) has applied for permission to repatriate to his cadre, half-way through his five-year tenure on Central deputation.

A 1990-batch Maharashtra cadre Indian Administrative officer (IAS) officer, Diggikar was named the chief executive of India’s biggest container gateway on August 25, 2015.

“His application for repatriation is under process,” an official at the Department of Personnel and Training said, confirming a query in this regard that explains why Diggikar has been missing from action over the past five months when India’s top container port was scaling new heights.

Diggikar, previously the Vice-Chairman and Managing Director of Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) Ltd, a company wholly-owned by the Maharashtra government, was asked by the Shipping Ministry “to proceed on long leave” after relations strained between the administrative Ministry and the head of JNPT.

Port, trade and industry officials have wondered how JNPT could run without a full-time chief executive at a time when it was developing a port-led multi-product special economic zone (SEZ), building inland container depots (ICDs) at Wardha and Jalna, pursuing a $313-million channel deepening project to help bigger vessels to berth, a road widening work with external commercial borrowings, a new satellite port at Vadhavan, besides a slew of ease of doing business and efficiency improvement initiatives on digitisation and simplification of processes such as direct port delivery (DPD) and direct port entry.

To ensure there was no leadership vacuum at JNPT, the Ministry handed over the charge of managing the port to Deputy Chairman Neeraj Bansal, an Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officer.

Diggikar is seeking a “graceful exit” by applying for repatriation rather than the Ministry wielding the axe, the official mentioned earlier said, adding that the Shipping Ministry was of the view that “he should go”. “He has been asked to apply in that particular fashion,” the official said.

Diggikar was not available for comment.

The Shipping Ministry confirmed that Diggikar has sought repatriation to his cadre but declined to comment further.

On February 18, Prime Minister Narendra Modi opened the first phase of a new container terminal at JNPT built by Singapore’s PSA International Pte Ltd with a capacity to load 2.4 million twenty-foot equivalent units or TEUs.

The new terminal will take the overall capacity of JNPT to 7.7 million TEUs from the earlier 5.3 million TEUs. The total capacity will cross 10 million TEUs when the second phase of the PSA terminal of another 2.4 million TEUs is completed by 2022.

Source: Business Line