As the casino imbroglio continues, BJP now backtracks on their promises about the removal of the off-shore casinos. State Minister now says that closing down casinos is not practical as it will affect livelihoods of many. In his election manifesto, Panjim MLA Babush Monserrate had promised to move these casinos within 100 days. But it now it seem like these casinos are here to stay, election promises notwithstanding
The elections are over and promises are yet to be fulfilled especially those about the casinos. According to TimesNow, even as Goa’s BJP President Vinay Tendulkar hinted at closing down of casinos moored in the Mandovi River, Environment Minister Nilesh Cabral said that the step would be counterproductive to the employment and ancillary businesses which the industry generates.
According to the source he said, “Shutting down casinos in the state is not practical as it will affect the industry that generates employment for locals as well as migrants. He also said that businesses like hotels and restaurants in certain parts of Goa are heavily dependent on casinos and closing them would be counterproductive.”
His statement comes on the heels of Congress alleging that the BJP is knee-deep in the casino industry and is equally responsible for the irregularities in the casino industry which are costing a revenue loss of over Rs 5,000 crore to the state exchequer every year.
According to the source, he pointed out the problems faced y the mining industry from sudden closure. “You have seen what happened when the mining industry was shut down and the hardships that people had to face. The casino industry is linked to other businesses, which will be affected if they are shut down,” he reiterated.
According to a report in Incredible Goa (Casinos are in the interest of the tourism industry –CM) recently, Chief Minister, Pramod Sawant also defended the government’s stance on casinos, when they appeared in a promotional video of Goa Tourism. “It is a part of the State’s tourism. Out of the total number of tourists visiting Goa, some tourists come here for casinos. Government is a continuous process and we can’t close things overnight.”
According to this source, he further added, “In the present circumstance, tourists are coming to visit casinos as well. Keeping in mind that Goa is a tourist place and with regards to the tourism sector, we need to promote every activity, which brings interest to tourists and also helps the development of the State.”
This statement seems to be in opposition to the promises made not only by the late Chief Minister but by Congress Panjim MLA, Babush Monserrate as well. According to a Times of India report, in May this year, Monserrate reiterated his intention to shift the six offshore casinos out of the Mandovi River, within 100 days of his tenure. He, however, clarified that they could move their operations on shore.
About the charge of pollution caused by off-shore casinos, Cabral promised that the State Pollution control authorities would be conducting an audit of the water used and discharged by the six offshore casinos vessels. “We will conduct a water audit soon. Right now, we have taken several steps to ensure that the river which the casinos are parked in is not polluted,” he said according to TimesNow.