Goa Offshore Casinos: Pollution Control Board doubles sewage monitoring fee

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The Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) on Friday announced a 100% hike in sewage monitoring fees for offshore casinos. The board has fixed Rs 10,000 per trip on working days and Rs 12,000 per trip on holidays and non-working days. There are a total of six casinos on the Mandovi river.

This is the first time since 2018 that these fees — earlier Rs 5,000 per trip for all days— have been changed. Member secretary Shamila Monteiro told GSPCB members that the rates have remained unchanged for four years, and considering the manpower required to be available on call, the amount needs to be enhanced.

Union Minister of State (MoS) for Jal Shakti Bishweswar Tudu in December last year informed Rajya Sabha that the off-shore casinos in River Mandovi are not causing any pollution in the river.

Monteiro also told board members that the GSPCB supervises the discharge of sewage from casinos to night soil tankers, as per the orders of the high court. The Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) had earlier appointed TUV SUD South Asia Pvt Ltd for undertaking a water audit of six floating casino vessels operating in river Mandovi at Panjim to identify and evaluate potential environmental impacts, especially due to disposal of sewage with the operation of these casinos.

The report by TUV SUD highlighted that while the gaming section of all the casinos was clean and neatly maintained in regards to the dry and wet waste receptacle placement and storage, the marine section was found to be very poor in storage and handling of hazardous waste including its inventory.

“Members were apprehensive about the hike in rates, but the same was justified as the board is required to station its manpower throughout the week and on-call. After deliberations, it was decided to revise the rates prospectively,” said GSPCB chairman Mahesh Patil on the monitoring fee hike.

Meanwhile, the board has decided to hold an international conference on environmental sustainability initiatives along with an expo, probably in October-November. Monteiro said that eminent speakers would be invited to the event, reported Times of India.

The board chairman said that Rs 1 crore has been budgeted for the event and that the Confederation of Indian Industry’s (CII) Goa chapter and the Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) would-be partners. He said the event would be a great learning experience for students, wherein they will get a chance to learn about garbage segregation, the disadvantages of the use of plastics, and the methodology of treating solid waste.