Delta Corp’s Pernem plans on hold as cabinet decides to defer approval

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The Goa state cabinet on last Wednesday deferred the declaration of an investment promotion area at Dhargalim, Pernim for Delta Corp after the local MLA and deputy CM Manohar Ajgaonkar objected to casinos in his constituency. Delta proposed setting up an integrated resort development over 3 lakh sqm in the area.

The project includes three hotels, a convention centre, a multiplex cinema, a retail area, a water park, banquet facilities and a children’s area. The integrated resort complex is planned to come up about five kilometres from the proposed new airport.

The cabinet decided to defer the decision after Ajgaonkar objected to it. “I have objected to the proposal as no one was taken into confidence in the constituency, including the panchayat,” the deputy CM said. The Goa Investment Promotion and Facilitation Board had received an application in December 2019 from Delta Corp for setting up an integrated resort development at Dhargalim in Pernem and to recommend to the government to demarcate and notify the reference area as an investment promotion area. The board, in a meeting held on October 26, 2020, has granted in-principle approval to the aforesaid project.

The leading casino operator has acquired close to 100 acres of land where it plans to shift all its off-shore casinos and initial estimates by the firm had pegged the total cost of the shift to Rs 1,200 crore to Rs 1,500 crore. “The integrated resort is expected to be one of its kind in the country,” Delta Corp’s company secretary Dilip Vaidya stated in a statement to the bourses in December 2020.

In a meeting held on September 1, 2021, the board recommended the reference area of the project, measuring 3.8 lakh sqm to be declared as an investment promotion area (IPA). Under the provisions of sub-section (2) of Section 42 of the Goa Investment Promotion and Facilitation of Single Window Clearance Act, 2021, the government issued a proclamation in respect of Delta Corp Ltd for the said project.

The proclamation was published in the state government’s official gazette dated November 25, 2021. The government also gave a one month time period, from the date of publication of the proclamation, for objections to the said proposal to be submitted in writing, with reasons, to the director of industries, trade and commerce (DITC). On December 15, 2021, DITC received an objection from a group under the banner of the Calangute Constituency Forum.

It mentioned that the in-principle approval for the said project granted by the Goa-IPB is not in the interest of the Pernem people, especially the people of Dhargal village, and also the state at large. DITC had highlighted that since the complainant is not from the taluka/panchayat where the project falls. The project falls under the Pernam assembly constituency.

Earlier, in January 2020, Dhargal villagers had objected to such a project fearing that it would be an onshore casino. As per local media reports, the company has constructed a compound wall after obtaining NOC from the local panchayat.