Panaji, April 5 (IANS) The dark clouds of illegal mining in Goa have cast a shadow on export statistics of the Mormugao Port Trust, the state's only major port. It handles nearly half of India's iron ore traffic.
Port chairman P. Mara Pandian told the media that while in 2010-11 the port handled 40.63 million tonnes of iron ore, in 2011-12 the figure fell to 29.37 million tonnes.
"The decline has brought down the total traffic by 22 percent during 2011-12 as compared to that of 2010-11," Pandian said.
Pandian, whose port exports nearly 50 percent of India's total iron ore export, said local issues like illegal mining, transportation of ore and extraction of existing ore dumps and the ban on mining in Karnataka had resulted in the drop in export.
The official said that the MPT was moving in the direction of re-inventing itself from a single commodity port relying only on ore exports to a multi-commodity export hub.
"Iron ore export consists of 80 percent of out port's output. We want to change that. We are looking at diversifying. As a port which has been in existence for over 125 years not much has been done in that direction," Pandian said.
He said MPT was also looking at importing coal for upcoming coal-based power projects in Karnataka as well as becoming a pharma export hub and a berthing facility for ocean cruise vessels.
"MPT can easily handle commodities like automobiles, cotton yarn, foundry yarn, timber. New commodities like granite has already been shipped through this port and export of maize is likely to start in the next few days," Pandian said.
He said MPT was in talks with the Karnataka Chamber of Commerce and Industry to market the port facility as an export and import hub for the Karnataka based traders and businessmen.
"The port recently facilitated opening of a drug controller facility which will benefit the pharmaceutical industry in this region. A sizeable business from this facility is also expected," Pandian said.
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