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High Court order may lead to retrenchment of 1500 barge staff

Vasco: The recent order of the Bombay High Court at Goa stopping the transportation of iron ore, for which royalty had been paid to the State government, has made uncertain the future of 1500 people employed in the barge industry.

Chief Secretary Dharmendra Sharma had issued an order allowing the mining leaseholders to transport ore, which they had accumulated outside the lease areas, provided due royalty is paid to the State. However, after the High Court set aside this order, all 75 barges, which were involved in transporting ore, had to again stop their operations.Speaking to the Herald, President of Goa Barge Owners’ Association (GBOA) Raymond De Sa said, “In days to come, barge owners would be compelled to retrench about 1500-odd employees as resumption of mining in state looks difficult.”

“We are disturbed as our business had just started but was once again stopped. The recent High Court order is a huge setback for us as whatever business we were doing, has been stopped with our barges lying idle and some even loaded with ore. The present situation is similar to what we faced during previous order. We are back to square one,” De Sa said.

“We invested money for barge repairs either by borrowing loans or on credit and we have no returns. It is a sad state of affairs. We want that the government should make efforts to expedite the process and start mining in Goa, following all legal processes, as tomorrow again we do not want to face a similar situation,” he said.

He said that around 75 barges were in operation and the barge owners associated with the GBOA had employed over 1500 people including barge crew and other office staff. However, if situation does not improve then they will be forced to take harsh steps.

“With no business left, we will not be in position to provide salaries to our employees. We would be compelled to sack them. I have around 150 people working for me and will be asking them to leave shortly. Similar steps will be taken by other barge owners too,” De Sa added.

“Our future in Goa is currently in the dark and we cannot wait for another three years for mining to start. Hence, some of our members have already started planning to take the barges out of Goa. I am also getting ready to send my barges and before monsoon I will send at least one or two,” De Sa informed. [H]

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