Panaji, July 23 (IANS) The Goa government has skipped eight deadlines to relocate the six offshore casinos operating in the Mandovi river off Panaji, over the last five years, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant told the Goa legislative assembly on Tuesday.
In a written reply tabled during the ongoing monsoon session, Sawant also said that the offshore casinos would be shifted out once a fresh site is identified for their relocation.
In his written reply to a question by Leader of Opposition Congress MLA Digambar Kamat about the number of timelines which the Council of Ministers had laid down, during the last 5 years, for shifting of casinos from the Mandovi river, Sawant said that the relocation dates had been finalised eight times.
He also said that the latest deadline for casino relocation was September 30, 2019.
There are currently six offshore casinos operating off Panaji. The opposition as well as civil society groups have been repeatedly demanding the removal of the casinos, claiming that the vessels, which are frequented by thousands of gamblers everyday, pose environmental as well as social harm to the state capital and the river they are parked in.
Panaji MLA Atanasio Monserrate, who has joined the BJP after leaving the Congress earlier this month, had said during his election campaign in May that the offshore casinos would be driven out of Panaji within 100 days.
Ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, while the BJP campaign had promised to shut down the casino industry in Goa if "people wanted", Sawant has ruled out shutting the casinos because of the investments made by the promoters of such facilities both offshore and onshore.
In his written reply to another question asked by Congress MLA Aleixo Reginaldo, Sawant did not specify the exact time-frame for the removal of casinos.
"Offshore casinos in river Mandovi shall be relocated upon finalisation of alternate feasible site," he said.