PANAJI: With the Goa Forward Party (GFP), an ally of the ruling BJP government, asserting that the off-shore casino would not be allowed to function, uncertainty prevails over the casino’s operations, reports the Times of India.
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GFP supremo and town and country planning minister Vijai Sardesai spilled the beans on the cabinet discussion on the entry of the sixth casino, saying that several ministers were against another casino sailing up the Mandovi. “It should not be a functional casino. That is my opinion and the stand of my party. I will push to see that it does not operate,” Sardesai said.
The minister went on to suggest that the Manohar Parrikar-led coalition government had tamely given up before the casino’s promoters in court instead of defending the government’s policy to not allow more casinos.
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“The point is that the government had not been directed to bring the vessel in. The court had only asked whether it could be brought into the river for safe refuge. My stand is that if the policy of the state is to not have any more casinos, then we should challenge it’s entry, we should not concede. We must resist it in different ways and I am going to push for that,” Sardesai said.
Given that GFP has been vocal about its opposition to off-shore casinos in Goa’s rivers, it appears that there are differences within the government when it comes to the vexing casino issue, and questions are being raised about casinos and their impact on the Goan way of life, usually known as Goemkarponn.
“It is not a dent on the vision of Goemkarponn, but it is definitely not in line with our narrative. We are talking about removing casinos from the river. This was discussed in the recent cabinet meeting. Others like Rohan Khaunte have also spoken against the casino. There was unanimity that the casino should not be allowed to enter the river,” Sardessai said.
The sixth casino vessel, M V Lucky Seven attempted to enter River Mandovi on Thursday last, but failed due to rough sea conditions with Captain of Ports officials saying that the bottom of the vessel briefly touched the river bed. The choppy sea conditions and poor visibility prompted the operators of the vessel to anchor the casino at Aguada bay.
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Officials with the Captain of Ports said that the vessel had moved from Mormugao port, where it was anchored for nearly a month while awaiting permission to sail to Panaji. With the Panaji port closed for the monsoon, the vessel is now moored at the Aguada bay and will make a fresh attempt to enter River Mandovi over the coming days.
In a related development, advocate Nuno Noronha has served a notice to the Captain of Ports stating that the permitting of the sixth off-shore casino in River Mandovi would be in violation of of an order passed by the high court of Bombay at Goa on July 12, 2017 in a PIL (15/2016).
The stranded 6th Casino may most likely be taken out of Goa to a dry dock to assess the damage, reports TOI. Mumbai-based Arihant Ship Breakers will attempt to refloat it when the tide will be at its highest and unless a dry dock to fit the vessel’s specifications are found in Goa, Lucky Seven will be on its way out.
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Salvage experts and mariners said the longer the vessel remained on the shore of Miramar, the higher the risk for it and a possible disaster.
“The vessel is on the beach at the wrong time. The high waves and strong wind is creating a lo t of pounding and with the swells, the vessel hull can be damaged. Once the bottom is breached, sea and sand will accumulate making the salvage task tricky and risky,” a marine salvage consultant said.
Experts and Captain of Ports officials concurred that the vessel would require a damage assessment in a dry dock when the ship is lifted out of water. Given that the propulsion mechanism has been damaged during the grounding, the likelihood of the vessel going into the dry dock also increases.
Due to heavy weather, the Tanzanian flag passenger ship is heaving and pitching, with the front part of the ship rising with the waves and slamming back on the shoreline. This constant stress on the hull structure is called pounding and can damage the hull plates.
“The vessel’s propulsion system has been destroyed. It will go to a dry dock for inspection of damages and repairs and refit,” a member on the salvage team said.
The high court of Bombay in Goa temporarily restrained the state government on Wednesday from issuing any new licences to offshore casinos on the Mandovi without its permission.
The high court’s interim order came after it prima facie found that such offshore activities are essentially permissible on the sea. But it refused to order a stop to the casinos that are already operating on the river since 1999.
“On going through the different dictionary meanings of the word “offshore”, it prima facie appears that offshore activities permissible are essentially towards the sea,” a division bench consisting of justices F M Reis and Nutan D Sardessai observed.
“However, by an ad-interim order, the respondent shall not grant permissions for casino licence during the pendency of the above petition in the river without seeking permission of this court,” the judges directed.
SOURCE & CREDITS: TIMES OF INDIA