Panaji, Oct 12: Nearly 50 mining barges virtually blockaded the Mandovi river, off Panaji, Wednesday to protest any impending action against the mining industry.
‘Our livelihood is based on the mining industry. Any move by the government to stop mining would be disastrous,’ Atul Jadhav of the Goa Barge Owners Association (GBOA) told IANS.
GBOA represents nearly 500 barges that ferry iron ore from mining jetties to the Mormugao Port Trust (MPT) for export.
The daylong blockade, which saw large barges blocking the river’s navigation channel, affected the movement of fishing trawlers and casino feeder boats that ply on the Mandovi.
Goa has been rocked by the illegal mining scandal, which the opposition has pegged at Rs.25,000 crore.
Sources in the mining industry said the blockade of the river had the tacit support of ore extractors and exporters whose operations are likely to be affected by any probe in Goa’s politician-bureaucrat-mining lobby nexus.
‘The line dividing legal and illegal mining is thin. The mining lobby is now flexing its muscle to ensure that government dithers from setting up a probe,’ a mining company official said.
Government data itself suggests that less than 20 of Goa’s 100 odd mines in Goa were operating illegally, in violation of norms and permissions.
Goa in the last fiscal exported 54 million tonnes of iron ore.