The State cabinet at its meeting on Wednesday evening decided to relocate the off shore casinos which are currently crowding the River Mandovi towards the West of the Mandovi bridges by spreading them out within the same river.
As per the decision, three floating casinos – The Leela, Arabian Sea King and Caravela – will now be anchored to the East of Mandovi bridges towards Ribandar village. Two other floating casinos – Pride of Goa and Boa Sorte – will be permitted to anchor to the East of the bridges but towards Panjim side of the river while the remaining two – San Domino and Casino Royale – will be anchored towards Betim side of the river.
This decision was arrived at following consultations with the floating casino owners subsequent to the High Court direction that a solution to the problem of congestion of the navigation channel of River Mandovi is worked out by the owners of the vessels sitting across the table with the Captain of Ports.
It may be recalled that following growing opposition to the floating casinos being anchored in river Mandovi from various organization including the Bharatiya Janata Party, the State Cabinet in February 2009 had decided to shift all the vessels to the Aguada Bay, which was not acceptable to the owners of the vessel who had moved the court over the matter.
While the present decision is expected to end the litigation it has ruffled quite a few feathers with the BJP accusing the government of capitulating to the casino owners’ demand and charging the government of being managed by them.
Aam Aurat Aadmi Against Gambling Convenor Sabina Martins asserted that the peoples voices should be heard by the court and said that the cabinet decision cannot bring to an end the matter pending in the court.