In a few years from now, you may be able to book flats or bungalows at coveted locations like Portland Park near Alipore, Chetla, Remount Road near Kidderpore and even next to Howrah bridge. Kolkata Port Trust plans to lease out nearly 420 acres of prime property in the city for use as residential townships. The proposal is expected to be cleared by the Union Cabinet in the next 2-3 months, after which bids will be invited.
“We have identified the property that will be leased out for townships. The townships will come up on a Public Private Partnership (PPP) basis. We will offer the properties on lease for up to 99 years to make the deal more attractive to developers. Through this we wish to strengthen our pension fund. KoPT needs to take care of nearly 22,500 pensioners,” KoPT chairman M T Krishna Babu said.
For this, the cash-strapped KoPT is even ready to give up plots with residential quarters for its own officers and employees. This is because most employees no longer opt for quarters and some even rent them out to outsiders. The plots identified are the Portland Park Quarters Complex, Chetla Quarters including Boat Canal and Durgapur Siding, Remount Road Quarters Complex, Taratala Labour Colony, New Howrah Bridge Quarters Complex and Brooklyn Quarters Complex.
Apart from these, the KoPT plans to lease out huge plots in the Port area for commercial purposes. These leases will be for 30 years. The pension fund is a big liability for KoPT. In 2015-16, nearly Rs 363 crore of its operating surplus of Rs 603.65 crore was diverted to this fund. Even then, the pension fund corpus stands at about Rs 1,300 crore. This is also the reason why KoPT hasn’t succeeded in handing over this liability to an insurance company like other organisations. If an insurance firm were to take charge, a corpus of nearly Rs 5,800 crore would be required. The management now wants to increase its pension fund from revenue earned through non-operational means.
“This will also help to release assets that were of no use financially. Rather, they were turning into liabilities, thanks to encroachments. There was a time when the Kolkata port required a lot of land in Kolkata. Later, as the volume of cargo came down, there was no need for so many go downs or warehouses. Different agencies that had taken the land on hire started leasing the property out to others without our consent. Finally, we ended up with several illegal occupants,” a KoPT official said.