Kashinath Shetye issues contempt notice to GCZMA for permitting offshore casinos to operate

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Activist Kashinath Shetye who approached the National Green Tribunal (NGT) against coastal regulatory zone (CRZ) violations of Deltin Caravela has now sent a contempt notice to Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority (GCZMA) for permitting other casinos to operate without the necessary CRZ clearance.

Shetye said a contempt petition will be moved against GCZMA before the NGT under sections 26 and 28 of the NGT Act 2010. Under the 2011 CRZ Regulations, prior permission is required for any activity within the CRZ if it requires waterfront and foreshore facilities. The offshore casinos in Goa use jetties and other foreshore facilities for transportation to and fro from the vessels.

The NGT held that Deltin operates a mobile hotel on a ship with facilities of restaurants, entertainment,  etc. In the process, foreshore facilities such as navigational facilities and mooring/berthing of the ship are covered by the foreshore facilities that mandate prior permission.

In the Caravela case, the NGT ordered the stoppage of casino operations
unless it has CRZ clearance and if it does not have, till such clearance is granted. The tribunal also directed the State PCB to assess and recover compensation for damage to the environment on account of operations of Deltin Caravela.

Shetye said that the order is also applicable for other offshore casinos and alleged that GCZMA did not issue notices to remaining offshore casinos due to corruption.  It is not clear how many of the offshore casinos have necessary CRZ permissions. Goa in total has six offshore casinos all in the Mandovi river.

Delta has already closed the operations of Caravela. “Based on legal advice, the company believes that HCEPL is not in violation of the CRZ Notification and HCEPL is pursuing legal remedies to challenge the order of the National Green Tribunal,” said Delta Corp’s company secretary and vice-president, Dilip Vaidya in a stock exchange disclosure on last Saturday (April 30).

Last Monday, Deltin appealed the NGT order before the Goa Bench of Bombay High Court which said an appeal must be filed before the Supreme Court.  Deltin aims to bring in a new casino vessel into River Mandovi by August-September to replace Caravela with an increased capacity of 2.5 times.