Goa allowed 5 MT unaccounted ore to slip through Panaji port: MPT

In a letter to Goa Chief Secretary Sanjay Srivastava, Mormugao Port Trust (MPT) chairman P Mara Pandiyan has asked for suspension of operations of the Panaji port to stop the illegal export, till it has infrastructure in place.

“It is estimated about five million tonnes have been exported through the Panaji port as unaccounted iron ore. This has caused bleeding of royalty to state exchequer and the people involved in this operation seemed to have flouted all norms,” Pandiyan’s letter says.

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Panaji port, a mere outer anchorage with no minimum infrastructure requirements such as a berth, surveillance system or security norms and not even a vessel traffic management system (VTMS) to monitor the movement of ships allowed barges transporting illegal ore direct access to trans-shippers. Some exporters have taken complete advantage of this, Pandiyan said.

The Goa government’s creation of Panaji port to benefit ore exporters has been a sore point with the MPT which loses revenues from the diversion of over 10 per cent of ore exports. Goa officially exported 54 million tonnes of iron ore last year.

According to statistics dug out by Goa officials who have been prodded into action by the arrival of the Justice Shah Commission set up to probe illegal mining in various states, 7.7 million tonnes of unaccounted iron ore was exported out of Goa last year, 5 million through Panaji port and the rest through Mormugao.

Karnataka’s chief conservator of forests U V Singh, met   government and police officials here on Friday and inspected some mines in north Goa.

U V Singh is scheduled to hold a public hearing on Saturday. Singh said over 300 mines would be inspected in Goa apart from records related to mining operations and exports to track down illegalities.

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