Panaji, May 23: Hit by the ban on mining in Goa, the state's shipping industry is exploring a new avenue of carrying long-distance cargo from inland waterways to ports in the neighbouring states, passing through the Arabian Sea.
"Since there is an uncertainty over mining in Goa, we are exploring the possibility of using our ships for other kind of long-distance cargo," Atul Jadhav, president of All Goa Barge Owners Association (AGBOA) said.
Around 300-odd barges carrying iron ore from different jetties to the Mormugao Port and Panaji Port have been rendered jobless, due to current ban on exports of iron ore from Goa imposed by the Supreme Court.
"The Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) has already conducted a study on Goa's 105-km-long coastline and declared its water as partially smooth, which will give a right to the ships from the state to travel up to 12 nautical miles in the sea," Jadhav added.
The ships in Goa which are currently registered under the Inland Vessels Act, 1970 will have to be registered under the Merchant Vessels Act, 1958, to give it permission to travel mid-sea.
INCOIS has already submitted its report to Goa's Captain of Ports, who will have to forward it to the Union Ministry of Shipping, he said.
Jadhav said that the barges would later be termed as "coastal vessels" and can carry cargo of different industries from Goa's inland waterways to the ports in Mumbai or even upto Gujarat.
"Maharashtra and Gujarat governments have already got a study conducted by the INCOIS, which has certified their waters as partially smooth," he said.
The ship owners in Goa are also looking at the forthcoming Industrial Investment Policy (IIP) of Goa which will allow construction of jetties along the inland waterways.
"The small shipping industry will be given incentives through this policy," said Ralf D'Souza, a member on the government appointment task force to frame the IIP.
He said that the merchant navy ship business will get a boost once IIP becomes a reality.