Goa Barge Owner’s Association, today appealed to the Central and State government to bridge the gaps created by the mining ban and to prepare a congenial and debt-free atmosphere for the common man in the state. The Barge Owner’s Association has urged for immediate resumption of mining activities in the interest for the revival of SME industry and protecting livelihoods of mining dependents in the entire value-chain. The barge owners have collectively incurred a loss in excess of Rs 500 crores in the last 30 months and the debts are further rising because of theirinability to repay the instalments.
The state of Goa is the only state with a unique logistics infrastructure for movement of iron ore from mines to ports. The entire cargo for exports is transported by barge through waterways. This is the most economical and environment friendly mode of transportation. This channel involves trucks, jetties, and barges, in that order. Iron-ore mining, in the statehad helped build a small and medium enterprises (SME) of truckers, machine and owners of river barges. These SMEs’took huge loans from various public and private sector banks as well as cooperatives to set-up their businesses and earn their livelihoods. Sudden closure of mining in March 2018 in the state through a Supreme Court order has led shut-down of these small businesses and their assets are lying idle and getting rusted for the last 30 months. Presently, all these businesses and their families are witnessing a bleak future as there has not been any clear direction from the Government on resumption of mining. Various money lending companies are also harassing as now the barge owners’ have sold their personal assets and are not in a capacity to repay the loans.
Urging the Government, Mr. Atul Jadhav, President, Goa Barge Owners’ Association said, “We had 304 barges in the state before mining was banned by the Apex Court of India. Today, we are left only with 105 barges and these are also getting worn out because we do not have any money for their maintenance. People working in the ‘Rs. 1300 crore worth industry’, in the current situation, have no money to feed their families. We are pleading to the Central and the State Government for immediately resume mining in the state so that our equipment get utilized and the labour employed gets the livelihood.”.
In Goa, mining had helped build a SME (small and medium enterprises) of truckers, machine contractors and owners of river barges. But mining closure has resulted in truckers and barge-owners burdened with bank debts. Mining and related transportation and mobility industry (including mechanics/garages, maintenance, drivers, support staff) had galvanised downstream establishments catering to well over 25,000 trucks, machinery, barge building industries and a large contingent of contract workers, creating a ripple effect on the economy of those areas, and indirectly providing employment to 1.5 lakh people in the state.