Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar came out in strong support of casinos in the state and reiterated that casinos are an integral part of the state’s economy.
“The state’s economy is dependent on casinos. But at the same time it should not be misunderstood that I am supporting to increase the number of casinos in the state,” Parsekar is quoted to have said as per the Press Trust of India (PTI).
Parsekar added that a large number of people were employed by the casinos and through ancillary industries. He also denied that the government has plans to shift offshore casino Deltin Caravela, anchored in river Mandovi near Dr Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, on the outskirts of Panaji city.
Interestingly however, Forest Minister Rajendra Arlekar had on Friday said his department has asked the Captain of Ports Department to shift the offshore casino vessel as it is anchored near a bird sanctuary.
The license of Deltin Caravela was recently renewed by the Goa government, taking the number of operational offshore casinos in the state to five. In the past few days, a large number of activists and politicians have protested against the growing casino culture in the state. NGO Aam Aurat Aadmi Against Gambling (AAAAG) has been at the forefront of anti-casino protests.
In a related development, local business house Chowgule Group have offered a private location in the River Zuari near Chicalim, which is just three kilometres away from the Dabolim Airport and six kilometres from the Mormugao Harbour, reports regional news portal The Goan.
Chowgule Group in their proposal have added that the private space can accommodate at least 10-12 casinos. Parking space and feeder boats to take visitors to the casino vessels can be easily made available as per the letter. The proposal also adds that since the village road is blocked at the end at a distance of 400 metres from the location and consequently there would be no disturbance to the villagers, which is a major concern at the other alternative sites.
Officials of the home department along with officials of Captain of Ports inspected the site to check the feasibility. It is understood that the state government has not officially responded to the proposal yet, but has neither ruled out the offer from the private entrepreneurs.