Standoff over offshore casino continues in Goa

June 3rd, 2009 - 4:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Panaji, June 3 (IANS) The standoff between the offshore casino operators and the Goa administration continues with the former refusing to budge from the river Mandovi, off Panaji.
While the captain of ports department, which oversees all minor ports in the state, has asked the offshore casino operators to move out of the river by June 8, Narendra Punj spokesperson for the Association of Offshore Casino (AOC) said that the vessels would stay put.

“The captain of ports has given us a licence to operate in the Mandovi river on the basis of which we purchased our ships. We will face a lot of difficulties if we move from the river,” Punj, who is the managing director of the Casino Royale, one of the biggest offshore casinos in Goa, told reporters Wednesday.

“We have maritime studies to back us. The sea near the Aguada bay where the government wants us to go is very choppy. Our customers will get sea sick if we park ourselves there,” Punj said.

The AOC has had two meetings with the Captain of Ports A.P. Mascarenhas but no solution has been forthcoming. Following public outcry, the state cabinet in February had resolved to push the casinos away from the river, into the Aguada bay area.

The AOC however put their foot down, saying the conditions there were inhospitable and petitioned the Panaji bench of the Bombay High Court against the order.

The matter is expected to be heard next week. The state government amid allegations of massive corruption has issued seven off shore casino licences over the last one year.

Six casinos are already operational, the seventh vessel is expected to arrive and start operations soon.

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