Goa Agriculture Minister Vijai Sardesai has suggested that the offshore casinos, currently anchored in the Mandovi river here, could be relocated to the land. A group of NGOs in Goa has been opposing the offshore casinos in the Mandovi river flowing along the Panaji city, alleging that they block the channel of the movement of ships. Some social activists have also claimed that the casinos are promoting social evils. The BJP-led Goa government had last month promised in its ‘common minimum programme’ to shift the off-shore casinos from the river. “I am of the opinion that the offshore casinos should be shifted out of Mandovi river even at the cost of getting them on the land,” Sardesai told reporters yesterday. He was replying to a question on why the casinos were not yet moved out of the river. Sardesai said, “In Sikkim, they have allowed the casinos on the land. If Sikkim can do it why can’t we do it?”
He said the casinos should be brought on the land as anchoring them in the deep sea may not be feasible. “Forcing the offshore casinos to shift in the deep sea is not possible. We have to be practical,” he said. The Goa government had in April this year granted six months extension to the five offshore casinos to relocate from the Mandovi river. However, following an order of the Goa bench of the Bombay High Court earlier this year, the state government granted permission to another offshore casino vessel, run by Golden Globe Hotels Pvt Ltd, for operating in the river for another six months.
Sardesai said, “My stand on the issue is that if the state government’s policy is to not allow any offshore casino, then we should challenge the court order. This is the view of my party.” Sardesai is the leader of Goa Forward Party, which is one of the alliance partners in the BJP-led state government.