Three truck owners’ associations in mineral rich Keonjhar district on Monday jointly blocked movement of minerals through rail at several stations to press for their demand to resume iron ore transport from the district by road.
“We have stopped rail movements in three stations (Keonjhargarh, Nayagarh and Bansapani) of the district as our discussion with the district administration did not reach any conclusion,” said Rabi Das, secretary, Joda Truck Owners’ Association.
The state government has stopped giving permits to miners to carry the minerals on road since November last year, ahead of the Shah Commission visit to the state, citing congestion of roads due to massive truck transportation. However, administration has not announced any restriction on truck transportation officially as of now.
“The state government has not imposed any restriction on truck transportation as you can see truck movements from mines to steel plant areas. But there is no movement of trucks from mines to ports for export purpose because of lower international demand,” said Umesh Chandra Jena, deputy director of mines (DDM) of Joda mining circle.
Iron ore exports have been hit hard following raising of the export duty on ore from 20 percent to 30 percent by the Central government, thus making it costlier for biggest importer China. During 2011-13, iron ore shipments from Paradip port slipped by more than half to only 6.5 million tonne, according to port data.
As per current procedure, the miners have to first apply for permit for road transportation of minerals for exports and domestic use purpose and then registered truck users can be permitted to carry the minerals. The truck owners association complained that though the miners are applying for road transport permit for the purpose of exports, the DDM office is denying their pleas.
“The miners would prefer to transport their mineral through trucks instead of rail as we offer cheaper services. It is the DDM office that is denying them permission,” said Das.
Last month Keonjhar district transported about 330,000 tonne of iron ore, out of which around 80 per cent were carried by rail network, he added.