Goa Barge Owners Association (GBOA) has urged the state government to extend the one-time settlement (OTS) scheme for another six months till September 30, to allow barge owners to overcome debts which they have suffered due to stoppage of mining activities in the state for the last about four years.
Addressing a press conference in Vasco on Wednesday, GBOA president Atul Jadhav, along with the vice president Raymond D’Sa, treasurer Dickson Pires and members including Uday Naik, raised strong concern over the state government’s decision to close down the OTS scheme from March 31, on the grounds that there are no takers.
According to GBOA members, many barge owners have opted for OTS scheme but the concerned banks have not shown interest in forwarding the applications to the state government due to which the barge owners who have been in debts have failed to avail benefits of the scheme.
Jadhav appealed to the state government to convene a joint meeting with the GBOA members and the concerned bank representatives where they can clarify the loopholes in availing the scheme. He also said that the Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar and Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar should intervene in the matter and come out with a solution where barge owners can avail the OTS scheme without any hurdle.
Jadhav said that all the barge owners affiliated to GBOA desire to avail the OTS scheme, but due to the non-cooperation from the bankers have failed to avail the scheme. He urged the state government to modify the OTS scheme and extend the deadline till September, in order to enable the concerned to avail its benefits.
Jadhav said that since the last about four years with the mining industry coming to a grinding halt, nearly 100 out of 304 barges have been either sold or scrapped by the owners.
Jadhav alleged that the IDBI Bank and Canara Bank have not offered the scheme while cooperative banks, economic development corporation (EDC), L &T Finance and SREI Finance have not given any waiver on loans. He also said that Bank of India offered the OTS scheme on March 23, and asked them to avail the scheme by March 29.
Jadhav also said that some barge owners had to even sell their houses, properties, and barges which were the only source of their livelihood.