With Goa’s road network already saturated with vehicles, ports minister Michael Lobo said that the state needs at least 20 passenger jetties for passenger transport and hinterland tourism activities. Addressing a conference on logistics organised by Confederation of Indian Industry in the state capital, Lobo said Goa needs funds from the Sagarmala and Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) to help promote water transport. At present, construction of nine permanent jetties and four floating jetties is proposed around the state, with funds from Sagarmala and IWAI. The state government has to conduct two public hearings for the jetties, after which the tender process can commence. IWAI chairperson Amita Prasad and managing director for Sagarmala Development Company Dilip Kumar Gupta were also present at the meet. Lobo pointed out that the number of registered vehicles in Goa had exceeded 15 lakh and if one included the vehicles that were transiting through the state and vehicles driven in by tourists, then the number would be much higher.
“The state government needs to promote water transportation and we need to explore tourism in the hinterland through waterways,” Lobo said. “Sagarmala is willing to give us money and we are not taking it.” Prasad said that IWAI was willing to offer all the support required in order to make the state’s rivers navigable and to improve water transport. She said that Rs 22 crore has already been sanctioned for development of waterways in Goa.
Barge Tax to be Reduced
In a bid to provide some relief to beleaguered barge owners, the state government appears to be deliberating over a reduction in barge tax and rural infrastructure cess in the coming months, said ministers Michael Lobo and Mauvin Godinho on Saturday. While Lobo said that an “informal decision” has been taken to reduce taxes on barges to Rs 1 per tonne of cargo transported, Godinho said that the state government was looking at a demand for the removal of rural infrastructure cess on inland waterways cargo ‘positively’. Neither of the ministers, who were speaking at a conference on logistics organised by Confederation of Indian Industry, gave a timeline for the sops to be notified. “We will definitely, positively decide on reducing barge tax ,” said Lobo.