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High taxes, inadequate Govt support irk Goa barge owners

Prakash Kamat

Panaji , Sept. 19

GOA barge owners, resenting the high taxes imposed on barges, have said they are not getting sufficient local Government support for the industry.

The Goa Barge Owners' Association (GBOA) claimed that various local taxes amounting to Rs 5 lakh for a barge of average size of 2,000 DWT was too much.

Approximately 240 barges with capacities ranging from 675 to 3,000 tonnes operate in the inland waterways of Goa.

Goa inland water transportation constitutes a significant portion of the entire inland water transport in the country, according to GBOA. And, more than 75 per cent barges are owned by the local entrepreneurs.

The association has requested the Secretary (Shipping), Government of India, to extend the inland vessel limits of the ports to coincide with the limits of the Goa ports.

The barge industry, whose fate is linked closely with the iron ore exporting industry here, sees a good season ahead as the port of Mormugao is expected to touch 30 million tonnes of cargo this fiscal, comprising iron ore, coal, coke, met coke, scrap, said the GBOA President, Mr Atul Jadhav, in an informal chat with the reporters on the sidelines of a function held to mark the commencement of the season on September 16 at the Goa (minor) Port.

He said that the minor port of Panaji handled 8 million tonnes of cargo in 2004-05. Goa exported close to 32 million tonnes of iron ore during 2004-05, a majority of which was handled by the major port of Mormugao Port Trust.

The handling of cargo by Panaji port may increase manifold with the coming of the new transhipper in November being brought by V.M. Salgaonkar and V.S. Dempo, said Mr Jadhav. This mega transhipper with a loading rate of 50,000-70,000 tonnes per day is expected to increase traffic through Panaji Port to more than 15 million tonnes.

The association has opened the "Aguada Sand Bar" to mark the opening of the Goa minor port for the season, which will end on May 20, 2006.

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