Goa: State cabinet grants another six-month extension to offshore casinos

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A six-month extension was given to offshore casinos by the state cabinet on Wednesday to continue with their operations in the Mandovi river. Currently, six offshore casinos are operating there.

In the last few years, these kinds of extensions have been given by the state government quite often in order to help these casinos operate without any issues.

Four locations had been tentatively chosen by the home department and captain of ports to relocate these offshore casinos. These included the Mandovi river mouth, close to Aguada jail, two spots along the Zuari River – east and west of the bridge, and the river Chapora.

Many people and local panchayats voiced their opposition to the relocation of the offshore casinos to these suggested alternative areas after a public notice welcoming any objections towards the mentioned alternate proposed sites was announced.

Chief secretary Puneet Kumar Goel said, “Therefore, the cabinet, from time to time, grants extension of the time limit to operate the casinos in river Mandovi subject to the condition that they shall shift the casinos out whenever an alternate feasible site is finalized by the government.”

Incidentally, in early October some of the offshore casino operators were summoned by the Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority (GCZMA) regarding incomplete documents for their application to obtain No Objection Certificates (NOCs).

While these offshore casinos waited for the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) clearance they were allowed to operate in the meantime. An official from the GCZMA had said at the time, “There is no ban on casino operations in the State. They can continue to operate as they apply for permission and await CRZ clearance”.

Moreover, an assessment on the pollution caused by these offshore casinos which were operating without permission was also to be done and the repair cost was to be recovered according to the orders from the Goa State Pollution Control Board.