Panaji MLA Babush Monserrate has assured the people that he will get the casinos out of River Mandovi for good within 100 days. NT BUZZ speaks to a few people about their take on this latest promise
The MV Caravela anchored in the Mandovi River in 2000. Since then, it has become a glitzy affair for tourists who come to the state and has been generating income for the state exchequer.
With the surge and demand of tourists, the numbers of vessels docked have seen an increase, despite the anti- casino sentiment echoing loud and clear from various quarters of the Goan population. They have mooted and protested to move these six off- shore casinos out of the Mandovi River.
These casinos have not just marred the view of the river, but have also continued to contribute to polluting the water body as revealed by studies done. Besides this, it has also disrupted lives and families due to debt and loss of money.
As for political parties and politicians, they have used the issue of casinos time and again to play on the sentiments of Goans and gain political upmanship. When BJP was in the opposition from 2007 and 2012, it opposed casino operations.
And once they (BJP) came to power, Congress has issued several statements of how the BJP have close ties with the casino lobby.
While at present, both political parties on the surface at least appear to be against the off- shore casinos operating, only time will tell about its fate.
However, as casino operators continue their operations, with blessings from ‘supporters’ and promoters, the newly elected MLA from Panaji, Atanasio Monserrate has a self set deadline to meet – 100 days.
Goa has become a casino place. There are sign boards displayed everywhere about these instead of all the other things one can do in our beautiful Goa. It’s so annoying. Casinos do not give 100 per cent employment to our Goans. They are also polluting the river. I know lots of families that have gone bankrupt due to spending money in casinos. We will know in three months if the promise has been kept. If it is not completed, he should let the people know the reason because people have elected him and people have the right to know. Time will tell, but if he does it, he is a man of his word.
— Cecille Rodrigues, Taleigao
I believe Goa’s tourism policy lacks substance and imagination. Yes it is one of the major sources of income but that does not mean we turn it into a “cash machine.” There must be environmental – friendly ways of doing things in every sector. About Babush wanting to wipe out casinos altogether in 100 days – if, unlike 99.9 per cent of the politicians in the country, if he is actually planning on keeping his promise, it might not be a good idea to get rid of all casinos at once. That will cause an upheaval in the lives of people working in casinos. Every change has to be gradual; one cannot just get up and say, “no work tomorrow”.
— Sandeep Doifode, Valpoi
It is not that easy. 100 days from now will mean monsoons, and then some or the other technical reason will be cited to delay the matter, and thus the task won’t be able to be accomplished within 100 days. In fact, forget 100 days; if it wasn’t done for all these years, you think Goans will be put above the interests of the casino owners?
— Nandu Kamerkar, Old Goa
Moving the casinos out of Mandovi is possible, but is that the solution to the problems faced? Other than taxi business, as people coming to these casinos mostly come late evening, and leave early morning, hotels don’t get much of a benefit. Secondly parking becomes an issue and very importantly the image of city and state is hampered. Lastly, a lot of semi-skilled migrants (mainly north-east, Nepalis etc) are settling in Goa.
— Sanath Bharne, Panaji
The main problem that casinos are causing right now is the large amounts of waste that is being dropped off into the river body causing pollution to the Mandovi. It is possible to remove the casinos so as long as the person has the right intent to do something. Nothing is impossible.
— Stalin D’Sa, Panaji
We’ve heard so many politicians come and speak, make promises, fail and lose their seat. If Babush is able to get the casinos out of the Mandovi, he will earn respect of Goans, not just of the people of Panaji. But, if he doesn’t, he will be in the same category just like all other Goan politicians who talk big.
— Khanifnath Tari, Mayem
I think late CM Manohar Parrikar tried his best to keep his word. And if he failed, I doubt anyone else will be able to do it. No one disrespects a ‘livestock’ that gives milk, taxes, amounting to crores of rupees earned by the government.
— Alex Rodrigues, Goa Velha
It isn’t easy to deal with the casino lobby that’s shelling out money legally and illegally to continue its operations. Babush definitely wants to prove himself, but being in the opposition it will make his work very difficult.
— Arjun Naik, Panaji