AT A time when China is leading a small group of nations blocking India’s entry into the select Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), the Union Home Ministry has asked Odisha to issue “leave India” notices to 10 Chinese nationals working on an expansion project of the Adani Group-controlled Dhamra Port Company Limited (DPCL) in Bhadrak.
In a letter sent to the Odisha government last week, the foreigners division of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) ordered that the Chinese nationals working for a Thai company at the port over the last several months be asked to leave as the area is close to the missile-launch facility at APJ Abdul Kalam Island (previously known as Wheeler’s Island).
“The DPCL is less than 15 km from the Launching Centre-IV at the Abdul Kalam Island, where missiles including Agni-I, Prithvi, Dhanush are being launched… Functioning of foreign companies and engagement of Chinese nationals accentuates the security concern of LC-IV,” stated the MHA letter.
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The letter also stated that the Chinese nationals working for Thai-based Sunzo Foundation Engineering were working at DPCL on a business visa instead of an employment visa. The Dhamra port is currently undergoing expansion in about 4 square km, and the Thai company is engaged in soil treatment of the reclaimed area.
Bhadrak Superintendent of Police N R Das said he was “in the process of issuing a notice to the company for sending off the Chinese nationals”. Dhamra port CEO Subrat Tripathy said his company would “respect whatever the government asks us to do”.
Last month, the island witnessed a successful test of a supersonic interceptor missile that can destroy an incoming ballistic missile with a nuclear payload, thus augmenting the country’s ballistic missile shield.
Dhamra is eastern India’s deepest port and started functioning in December 2011. It is in the process of expanding its capacity from 25 million tonnes to 100 million tonnes of cargo, by adding 11 new berths.
DPCL needs 740 acres of land for the expansion, which is yet to be granted by the BJD-ruled state government – the process is currently on hold. In May 2014, Adani Ports & Special Economic Zone had acquired DPCL from L&T and Tata Steel for Rs 5,500 crore.
First proposed in the 1990s, the port project had been slammed by wildlife groups on account of its proximity to the Bhitarkanika and Gahirmatha olive ridley marine rookery.