National Waterways-1 will require at least 100 additional barges to transport cargo to Nepal once the Sahibganj terminal in Jharkhand becomes operational. But, there seems to be an acute shortage of freight boats as banks and NBFCs have cut funding to barge owners. The financial stress of barge owners has got worse after many of them defaulted in debt servicing following a ban on iron ore mining in Goa.
Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT) chairman Vinit Kumar said after the mining ban in Goa a number of boats were rendered idle and operators were unable to repay debt, forcing banks to stop funding barge operators. Banks and NBFCs also stopped accepting barges as collateral and this impacted barge owners across the country, resulting in the current shortage of barges to operate on National Waterways-1, he added. Read more
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