Hinting that coalition compulsions were responsible for allowing the casinos to function in Goa, the BJP on Monday said it is against the Casino industry.
While Vijai Sardesai of the Goa Forward Party has recently gone on record to state that he and his party the GFP is against Casinos, one cannot help but wonder who was Nilesh Cabral hinting at when he used the term ‘coalition compulsions’ – was it the MGP or the GFP.
Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, who is expected to table the state’s first casino policy, will be addressing the issue comprehensively during the upcoming monsoon session of the Goa Assembly, BJP spokesperson Nilesh Cabral told a press conference in Panaji today.
“The Chief Minister is already on record that he will address this issue properly. Today, the BJP is not the only (party in) government…A collective decision has to be taken. We (BJP) are against casinos,” Cabral said when asked whether the BJP was principally against the casino industry in the state.
The Opposition has attacked the BJP for its alleged proximity to the offshore casino industry, especially after a sixth offshore casino vessel which was being steered from the Arabian Sea into the Mandovi river ran aground at Miramar beach due to stormy weather.
Parrikar and his predecessor Laxmikant Parsekar had repeatedly assured that there would be no more addition to the five offshore casinos operating on the Mandovi river.
BJP sources now say that Parrikar’s casino policy, which is expected to be tabled in the state assembly, would facilitate the relocation of offshore casinos onshore and that a three-year period would be given to the industry to relocate from the Mandovi river.
According to a Times of India report, the brazen decision to sail into Mandovi river in rough weather has created a potential catastrophe for MV Lucky Seven, which drifted and ran ashore on Miramar beach early Sunday.
Ignoring several warnings by port authorities, the vessel, which is owned by former Haryana home minister Gopal Kanda has been trying unsuccessfully to sail into the Mandovi river for the last three days.
Two tugs chartered by SS Offshore Private Limited attempted to tow the ship into the river on Saturday but had to give up when the vessel ran aground on the Aguada sand bar and after the towing cable snapped off, said port officials.
On Sunday at 3am, the anchor gave way and the vessel drifted towards Miramar beach where it has settled for now. Four crew members who were injured, one grievously, were rescued by the Indian Coast Guard early in the morning.
The sand bar is currently closed for any kind of navigational traffic due to the monsoon season.
“The deputy CoP called us at 9pm on Saturday saying that the ship was grounded and that four crew need to be evacuated for medical treatment. Our Coast Guard ships can’t go there and since helicopters are not allowed to fly at night, we decided to wait for first light for the medi-evac,” commander of Coast Guard – Goa, deputy inspector general Manoj Baadkar said.
A five-member Coast Guard helicopter crew led by Captain Amit Korgaonkar rescued four crew members from the grounded ship and dropped them on Miramar beach from where they were taken to a private hospital for treatment.
According to the ship’s officials, a crew member got injured on Saturday when the towing cable attached to the tugs snapped off during the attempt to tow the vessel to Verem Bay. The other three crew members were sea sick due to the choppy waters. According to sources, 15 crew members are still on the ship.
MV Lucky Seven, is a Tanzanian flag passenger vessel and has been brought to Goa by Golden Globe Hotels Pvt Ltd (GGHPL) to be used as an off-shore casino.
Sources said, CoP had filed an affidavit before the Bombay high court saying that it was dangerous to even attempt to bring in the vessel during the monsoon. Despite repeated warnings and several failed attempts, the crew of MV Lucky Seven kept trying to sail the vessel up Mandovi river.
“What is the hurry to bring in the ship? The diesel gensets and the engines are not working on board the ship. Why was it even allowed to move away from MPT?” a marine shipping expert said.