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Barge owners in Goa want sops after mining ban

Goa,Business/Economy, Thu, 18 Oct 2012 IANS

Panaji, Oct 18 (IANS) Owners of over 200 iron ore-ferrying river barges in Goa have sought sops from the union government following a Supreme Court ban on iron ore mining.

They met Union Shipping Minister G.K. Vasan Thursday and sought an extension in the subsidy on the interest on the loan they took for buying the barges.

Barges (flat bottomed river boats) are a popular mode of ore transportation from river jetties located in the heart of the mining belt to the port, from where the ore is exported.

The mining industry has stopped functioning after the Supreme Court slapped the ban and no one wants to hire barges anymore, said Atul Jadhav, president of Goa Barge Owners Association.

"If we do not get work, how can we pay the loans?" he said to IANS.

"We have asked the minister to intervene and try to extend the subsidy on the interest on the loans," Jadhav said after meeting Vasan, who was in Goa to attend a maritime exhibition.

Jadhav said there was a shipping ministry scheme which gave subsidy on loans taken to buy vessels for river navigation.

It needed to be revived to bail out Goa's barge industry, he said.

Each barge, he said, required crore of rupees for fabrication and ore ferrying was the only business through which the loan taken to build the barges could be paid off.

Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) president Manguirish Pai Raikar said several mining industry stakeholders have been affected by the ban on mining and needed help to tide over the crisis.

Over 50 million tonnes of iron ore is transported from Goa's mining belt to the ports.

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