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Politics, economics of Goa’s river casinos

Last week, the Goa cupboard headed by Chief Minister Pramod Sawant granted a recent six-month extension to offshore casinos within the Mandovi river off Panaji. Local folks in Panaji have complained for years now that the casinos that appeal to giant numbers of vacationers, trigger visitors congestion on Dayanand Bandodkar Marg, the street operating parallel to the riverfront. Tourists are ferried to the six glitzy casinos floating within the Mandovi in boats. Sawant and his predecessors within the CM’s workplace have been repeatedly criticised for failing to maneuver the casinos out of Panaji.

Why have the casinos acquired a recent extension?

The offshore casinos shall be allowed to remain afloat on the Mandovi for six months from April 1. According to authorities officers, the casinos have been given a number of six-month extensions since they first got here up in Goa about 20 years in the past.

The Chief Minister, whereas saying the choice, stated that the federal government was but to determine the situation to which the casinos may be moved.

Where can the casinos be shifted out?

Over the years, proposals have been made to maneuver the six casinos to a different half of the Mandovi river close to the Aguada Jail or to areas on the Zuari river or the Chapora river, about 25 km away from Panaji. None of these choices have, nonetheless, been discovered possible.

Officials say that they may not be sure that locals from the prompt areas wouldn’t be against the casinos transferring to those elements. Also the stillness of the water could be an essential facet to think about earlier than the casinos are relocated.

How a lot income does the federal government earn from the casinos?

Apart from the six offshore casinos on the Mandovi, there are a few dozen others that run inside main inns. According to authorities sources, the federal government earns over Rs 320 crore in licence charges on common from the casinos, and about Rs 1,000 crore in taxes for allied companies equivalent to eating places, inns, vacationer autos, and many others.

The casinos on the Mandovi additionally pay entry charges and native taxes to the company of the town of Panaji, and about Rs 25 lakh for licences to the excise division. The excise division additionally earns a consumption obligation on each bottle of alcohol consumed within the casinos, authorities sources stated.

The casinos which have develop into an integral half of Goa’s tourism are an essential income generator for the state, drawing each Indian and worldwide vacationers. However, authorities officers stated offshore casinos are way more well-liked amongst vacationers than the onshore ones.

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Where do the political events within the state stand on this problem?

Before the Legislative Assembly elections of 2019, Panaji MLA Atanasio ‘Babush’ Monserrate had promised that the casinos could be out of the Mandovi if he was elected. Monserrate was among the many 10 Congress MLAs who jumped ship to the BJP after the outcomes had been introduced in July 2019, resulting in the formation of the BJP authorities in Goa in 2019.

Monserrate has been repeatedly attacked by opposition events together with the Congress and the Goa Forward Party over the “100-day promise” that he made earlier than the elections.

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