Goa Environment Minister Nilesh Cabral on Friday ruled out shutting down offshore casinos mounted on vessels, but assured to conduct a study to find out if there is any water contamination by these ships which are parked in the Mandovi river. He said authorities will be asked to check the river water around the offshore casinos, a popular tourist attraction in the state, for any contamination.
"It is not practical to shut down the offshore casinos as they generate employment and also help ancillary industries, Cabral told reporters, reacting to the Congress demand to move these ships out of Mandovi. The minister, however, said he would ask the Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) to conduct an audit of water management by these half a dozen offshore casinos.
He said a study would also be conducted on whether there is any contamination of water due to these vessels, anchored in Mandovi off Panaji. During the press conference, Cabral gave details of how the offshore casinos dispose off their sewage.
He rubbished claims that the offshore casinos were releasing their sewage in the river waters. Cabral said people are already facing hardship due to the closure of mining operations since last year and any move to shut down the offshore casinos will have an adverse impact on employment in the state.
"You have seen what happened when the mining industry was shut down and the hardship that people faced. The casino industry is linked to other businesses which will be affected if they are shut down, the minister said. The Congress Thursday had alleged these casinos were the main source of income for the BJP and the coalition government headed by it in the state. The opposition party has demanded their closure.
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