In a seemingly contradictory reply, Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant shared a document with the state legislative assembly that states‘casinos as per Goa laws for passengers’ is part of the list of economic activities that will be permitted within a commercial area of 232 acres adjoining the upcoming Mopa airport.
In response to a starred query by BJP MLA Wilfred D’Sa, Sawant tabled a copy of the feasibility report and list of permitted economic activities in terms of the concession agreement between the Goa government and airport infrastructure conglomerate GMR Group (which will be developing the Mopa airport).
Sawant however added that commercial activity at the airport will gain momentum only upon the commissioning of the airport and as such, at present, there is no proposal for commercial activity near the Mopa airport.
While the Chief Minister’s response may pave way for casinos at the Mopa airport, subject to amendment of the current Goa, Daman and Diu Gambling Act, 1976 and shifting of the offshore casinos, Sawant and his ministers have stated on numerous occasions that a new casino policy is still being examined by the state government and that no final decision has been made on shifting of offshore casinos to a new location.
The construction of the greenfield Mopa Airport in the Pernem Taluka of North Goa has been riddled with delays and protests from locals, with the Supreme Court recently suspending environmental clearance granted for construction at the airport and issuing directions to the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) to revisit its decision of giving a go ahead, in light of its impact on ecology.
In May 2019, the EAC reportedly gave a fresh clearance for construction at the Mopa airport with more stringent conditions, in light of the decision of the Supreme Court. The deadline for completion of the project, however, remain unclear in light of the delays due to suspension of its environmental clearance.