Delta Corp relocated Deltin Caravela, one of its offshore casinos towards the Veerem side of River Mandovi last fortnight with a permit from the Goa state government. Post the move, the government also affirmed that two more casinos would be shifted towards the Verem side.
Michael Lobo declared, “Out of six offshore casinos operating in the Mandovi, three would be placed along the Panaji side and three on the Veerem side.”
The reason behind the Move:
- Chief Minister Pramod Sawant had declared back in July that offshore casinos would be relocated to land at the new upcoming Mopa International Airport project.
- Ports Minister Michael Lobo declared two months later that the department of ports was being asked to identify a suitable location on Aguada Bay for relocating the casinos.
‘I will close the road if the offshore casino gets relocated to the Verem side’, voiced Jayesh Salgaonkar, the Saligao Goa Forward Party (GFP) MLA. He stated that the people of Saligao and Verem are intensely against the shift, threatening to go on a ‘Rasta-roko’ protest on the Betim-Calangute road. “I’ve explained to the CM about the roads’ condition. The roads are used by heavy vehicles to travel to industries and waste treatment plant.”
The former Ports Minister claimed to know the reason behind the relocation and raised burning questions, “Who is he (Michael Lobo) pleasing? Who will it benefit? Have they even given a thought to the increase in vehicular traffic if casinos are shifted?”
Salgaonkar questioned the government’s intention, indicating the adequate dredging measures on the other side of the River Mandovi. “Moving the vessels towards the Betim side of the river would be impractical since they could get grounded during low tide. I would approach the National Green Tribunal if the government goes ahead with this plan.”
According to Goans, inadequate dredging of the river near the casino locations has made the river bed shallower which is why they protested against the continued operation of offshore casinos.
Since passengers faced severe discomfort due to heavy rolling and pitching caused by tides, Delta Corp had reportedly requested to move Deltin Caravela to the Betim side of the river early last month. The government turned down the request, agreeing on moving the casino towards the Verem side of the river instead.
“I have cleared the file, and the order has been issued by the government allowing change in the location of Deltin Caravela,” State Ports Minister Michael Lobo explained.
While the government is aimed to resolve the immediate crisis at hand caused by tidal conditions, the issue has stirred a political fracas in the coastal state.