Debt-ridden barge owners in Goa banking on Gadkari for bailout

Prakash Kamat Panaji | Updated on January 17, 2018 Published on July 11, 2016

₹90-cr relief sought from Inland Waterways Authority of India

Struggling to get rid of high debts with bankers and financial institutions, barge owners in Goa are banking on Union Minister for Shipping Nitin Gadkari to bail them out through the intervention of Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI).

IWAI is the statutory authority in charge of promotion of waterways in the country.

Mining ban

With the iron ore mining and exports coming to a halt three years ago following the Supreme Court order, barge owners were one of the major stakeholders affected, with bank debts mounting to ₹360 crore with around 400 barges going out of work.

Atul Jadhav heading the Goa Barge Owners’ Association (GBOA) has been seeking the intervention of the State and the Centre to overcome the debt crisis.

GBOA initially tried in vain to press for complete takeover of all outstanding loans by the government under a Central assistance scheme of the IWAI. Fresh proposal

Jahdav has submitted a fresh proposal to IWAI through Gadkari to give the barge owners relief to the extent of ₹90 crore from their total non-performing assets (NPAS) amounting to approximately ₹180 crore from around 160 barges at present.

The bankers have been reluctant to help the sector with more relief as even before the mining ban, the sector was saturated with mining companies launching their own barges.

Jadhav told BusinessLine that if the IWAI comes to their rescue, with the State government having promised to help them with a ₹14-crore waiver package, and the bankers agreeing to a one-time settlement with a relief of ₹26 crore, the barge owners can reach a manageable debt amount of around ₹60 crore.

The GBOA members are willing to opt for OTS but have never been given the chance by banks, said sources in the industry.

Published on July 11, 2016
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