Fishermen block Goa port, Coast Guard help sought

The Goa government on Saturday asked the ICG and the Indian Navy to clear a "guerrilla style" waterfront blockade of the Mormugao Port Trust (MPT) by fishermen using their trawlers to protest the recent demolition of their houses.

Last Updated: Apr 16, 2011, 16:32 PM IST

Panaji: The Goa government on Saturday asked the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) and the Indian Navy (IN) to clear a "guerrilla style" waterfront blockade of the Mormugao Port Trust (MPT) by fishermen using their trawlers to protest the recent demolition of their houses.

A senior official said that Chief Secretary Sanjiv Srivastava has sought assistance of the maritime forces to clear the fishing trawlers parked at the mouth of the port`s navigation channel, as this was affecting the transport of iron ore from Goa`s only major port, located 40 km from here.

Mining trade officials have pegged the loss at Rs 20 crore since fishermen from Kharewado in Vasco, who owe allegiance to state Revenue Minister Jose Phillip D`Souza, began their blockade Friday.

"We have asked the navy and coast guard for help today. We want to resolve the situation amicably, but then the business of the port authorities and state government should not be hampered," a senior South Goa district administration official said.

"The chief secretary and the district superintendent of police have been negotiating with the agitators since yesterday (Friday). We have also issued a formal order asking them to remove the obstructing vessels. Now we have asked the navy`s Flag Officer Goa Area (FOGA) and the coast guard to help us," the official said.

The Goa Mineral Ore Exporters Association (GMOEA), which represents the state`s Rs 4,000 crore mining industry, said that nearly 400 barges waiting to offload their cargo onto trans-shippers at the port were being blockaded by the fishermen, who call themselves Kharewado Affected People (KAP).

"At least 15 trans-shippers are anchored off Mormugao harbour waiting for the ore. The exporters have said that they were not anticipating the strike and had not prepared for it," a GMOEA official Glenn Kalavampara said.

Goa annually exports nearly 45 million tonnes of iron ore. The ore is extracted in the hinterland and is transported to the Mormugao port by river barges, which offload their cargo on to waiting trans-shippers that carry the cargo mostly to China, Japan, Romania, etc.

The Kharewado Affected People (KAP) said the demolition of the fishermen`s houses has to stop.

"They have already demolished 66 structures and there are 247 more on the demolition list. The government should not touch them," Father Bismark Dias told a news agency, adding that the structures were being "rid off" to ensure expansion of the port.

IANS