Panaji, Nov 9 (IANS) Claiming a loss of Rs 500 crore, the Goa Barge Owner’s Association has demanded an “immediate solution” to the stalemate in the mining industry, which has been non functional for nearly two years now, after the Supreme Court of India found irregularities in renewal processes of 88 iron ore leases in the state.
In an appeal made to the Central and the state governments, the Association has also said that the mining industry formed the bedrock for small and medium scale industries and added that its revival was the key to resolving the twin issues of unemployment and economic downturn.
“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,” the association’s president Atul Jadhav said in his appeal.
“We are pleading to the Central and the State Government to immediately resume mining in the state so that our equipment gets utilized and the labour employed gets the livelihood,” he also said.
River barges have been traditionally used by mining companies in Goa to ferry iron ore cargo from loading jetties located near ore extraction sites to transshippers at the state’s major port located in Mormugao sub district, from where the ore is shipped abroad.
With the Supreme Court’s judgement deeming 88 operational mining leases as illegal due to the irregularities in the renewal process, ore extraction has come to a standstill and as a result has impacted the barge operations.
“The Goa 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 their inability to repay the instalments,” Jadhav said.
The Goa government, as well as mining companies have already petitioned the Supreme Court seeking resumption of mining activity in the state.