Mumbai: The government has barred Hong Kong-based Hutchison Port Holdings, a division of Hutchison Whampoa Ltd, from participating in the Mumbai container port project, citing security reasons.
Nine other companies, including Japan's Mitsui OSK, Dubai Ports and Taiwan's Evergreen Marine Corp, received security clearance to bid for the Mumbai project, bids for which are yet to be opened. Hutchison Port Holdings was the only candidate out of 10 that was barred, reports quoted Mohana Chandran, secretary of Mumbai Port Trust, as saying.
Government officials, however, said there is no ban on Chinese companies as such and that the denial of security clearance to Hutchison was company-specific. This decision was taken purely for this project and cannot be taken as a policy decision, they said, adding that the government has no plans to prohibit Chinese companies wishing to participate in development of ports in India.
Hutchinson officials also rejected news of any bar on the company. Hutchison Port Holdings officials said the company has not been rejected any port projects in India and that it has fact taken part in previous bids. Hutchison Port Holdings, they said, is yet to identify a suitable investment in the country.
Officials cited the presence of Indian naval base near the Mumbai port as the one reason for denial of permission to Hutchison Port Holdings.
India has lined up 13 port projects, valued at around $13 billion.
Hutchison Port Holdings is the world's leading port developer and operator and a leader in the application of new technologies in the transportation and logistics chain. it operates 251 berths in 43 ports along with a number of transportation related service companies. In 2005, the Hutchison Port Holdings Group handled 51.8 million TEU of cargo.