The Goa Barge Owners’ Association, a body comprising of nearly 305 barges registered in Goa, has requested the state government to declare Goa as affected mining area or to be a mining-affected sector in order to consider
immediate financial aid to the barge owners who are found in total distress in view of the closure of iron ore export for last about one year in the state.
The members of the GBOA held an emergency meeting at their office based in Vasco Monday morning in order to make a representation to the state government in order to come out from a total distress, which they are facing due to the closure of iron ore export. Almost 305 barges which are registered under the GBOA are having a huge burden of loan from several banks and that they are now unable to repay the same due to a total ban on iron ore export. Since the transportation of iron ore through barges has been stopped due to the closure of mining industry, most of the barge owners feel that they are having no option than to commit suicide, if they failed to repay the loans and the interest.
The GBOA members comprising of its president, Mr Atul Jadhav, general secretary, Mr Willian D’Costa, treasurer, Mr Chandrakant Gawas and others called on Power Minister Mr Milind Naik to their office in Vasco and highlighted him about their grievances. They took an appointment with the Chief Minister Mr Parrikar in the evening in Panaji and highlighted the factual position from which they are facing.
Speaking to this daily, GBOA general secretary, Mr William D’Costa told that the Chief Minister Mr Parrikar has assured them to consider the problem of interest waiver of the loans at first and thereafter would try to sort out the other problems of the barge owners.
As the state government has come out with a package for the truck owners, the GBOA members also have demanded the state government to come out with a similar kind of package to the barge industry and even for their crew members who are suffering lot of hardship at this stage.
GBOA, general secretary, Mr D’Costa further said that ‘Exit Policy’ which is applicable for scrapping of buses in the state should be made available to the barge owners in order to scrap their barges, which have a huge amount of loans. This policy would help the barge owners in receiving half of the payment from the government as a financial aid to scrap the barges.
The GBOA,president, Mr Atul Jadhav told that most of the barge owners have received letters from the bank over not paying their installments on loans and interest. “Despite of various representations to the then Congress led government in the state for not allowing any more construction/building of barges, the then government failed to keep a track and ban on new construction of barges, due to which the present situation of huge burden on loans has cropped up”, said Mr Jadhav.
He requested the state government led by Mr Parrikar to kindly ask the bank authorities to stop issuing notices to the members of the GBOA and try to compensate all the barge owners in helping to pay the one quarter of loan interest which they have obtained from several banks. The barge owners have also demanded that the immediate transportation of dumps of iron ore at several jetties would give them some kind of relief in paying the installments of the banks on loans and even to pay the interests.
The GBOA treasurer, Mr Chandrakant Gawas focused on the factual position of the barge owners, wherein they are not in a condition to face the problem under which they are undergoing due to the closure of barge industry. He was of the opinion that the barge owners would have no option than to commit suicide on the footsteps of the farmers who have committed suicide in various villages of Maharashtra over the burden of loans which they failed to repay to the banks. [NT]