A casino vessel anchored next to Dr Salim Ali bird sanctuary in Goa will be shifted as it is adversely impacting avian life there, state Forest Minister Rajendra Arlekar said today.
“The department officials have conducted an inspection of the vessel five times till date. Every time we have found that the vessel is between 200-220 metres away from the sanctuary,” he told PTI.
Offshore casino vessel Deltin Caravela which is anchored next to the sanctuary in Mandovi river near Chorao Island, had triggered protests by people there.
The state forest department too had requested Captain of Ports to ask the casino owners to move the vessel away.
Captain of Ports, however, in its reply to the forest department had refused to move the vessel, claiming that it is 400 metres away from the sanctuary.
Arlekar rubbished the claim of Captain of Ports, stating that if it was anchored 400 metres it would have touched the other side of the bank as entire basin in that area is around 500 metres.
“The vessel will have an adverse impact on the avian life in the sanctuary. That is why we want to shift the vessel. As the Forest Minister, it is my responsibility to protect the wildlife. I have nothing against casinos,” he said.
He said the he would be holding a meeting with senior forest department officials to discuss the issue after the stand taken by Captain of Ports.
Recently, Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar had said that he had not received any file from the forest department seeking moving of the casino vessel.
Arlekar said the communication on the issue is between officers of forest department and Captain of Ports.
“The file will not go to the Chief Minister. It is being dealt with at the officers’ level,” he said.
Goa has five offshore casinos, besides several on shore gaming facilities.
NGOs like Aam Aurat Aadmi Against Casinos (AAAAC) had recently protested against the casino culture in the state. They had demanded that offshore casinos should be shifted away from Mandovi river.