Panaji, Nov 11: Amid predictions that iron ore trade volumes will drastically dip this fiscal, an association of ore-ferrying river barges in Goa has asked the state government to stop registering more vessels.
The All Goa Barge Owners Association (AGBOA), representing the nearly 400-odd barges in the state, has asked Chief Minister Digambar Kamat to put a ceiling on the number of barges in Goa.
‘Our waterways are congested. There is no place for more barges. Taking into account the amount of ore transported, having more barges in Goa will be uneconomical,’ said William D’Costa, secretary of the association.
Goa exported nearly 54 million tonnes of iron ore from the two ports in the state’s jurisdiction, a minor port off Panaji and a major port Mormugao Port Trust (MPT), located 40 km from here.
Ore from the mining pits in Goa’s hinterland are ferried from mining jetties to the loading areas in these ports by river barges which ply along the Mandovi and Zuari rivers that open into the Arabian sea.
‘The total dead weight of all barges together is 6.5 lakh tonnes. Considering the existing capacity, all barges together can have on an average 70 trips a year, which is uneconomical,’ D’Costa said.
Even though Goa exported in excess of 50 million metric tonnes, there are growing fears of a crackdown on illegal mining, following the submission of the Justice M.B. Shah Commission report on illegal mining to the central government. Industry experts have predicted a sharp dip in Goa’s mining exports this financial year.
The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has pegged Goa’s illegal mining scam at Rs 25,000 crore.