Three offshore casinos apply for CRZ clearance

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Panaji : With the state making it obligatory for offshore casinos to take coastal regulation zone (CRZ) clearance from the Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority (GCZMA), three casinos so far have approached the coastal body for permission, revealed a senior government official  on Monday.

He said the state has six floating casinos of which three – as of now – have applied for CRZ clearance to operate in the Mandovi river.

“There is no ban on casino operations in the state. They can continue to operate as they apply for permission and await CRZ clearance,” the official said.

On April 13, the GCZMA had issued instructions to vessels.

It had asked all operators of the floating casinos as well as vessels operating in riverine areas to obtain within 24 hours permission under CRZ Notification, 2011.

The coastal body had sought information from the Captain of Ports, Panaji, on all vessels/floating casinos.

Presently the GCZMA is mulling over asking for CRZ clearance only from the vessels that create pollution in the rivers, such as floating casinos, river cruise vessels, etc.

“The floating casinos in the state are already being monitored for pollution and compliance with norms of the Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB). Making them take GCZMA permission is because of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) order which says that CRZ rules are for vessels operating within 12 nautical miles in the river,” explained the source.

A NGT order of April 29 restrained casino Deltin Caravela (known as Kings Casino) – operated by  Highstreet Cruises and Entertainment Pvt. Ltd., a subsidiary of Delta Corp Ltd. – from doing business for not having the requisite CRZ clearance under CRZ Notification, 2011.

The order stopped the casino from conducting business, “unless it has CRZ clearance”.

The green tribunal had said that if any permissible activity in the CRZ area requires waterfront or foreshore facilities, CRZ clearance is required.

However, responding to an appeal filed by the company, the Supreme Court issued a stay against the NGT order on May 14, and accordingly, the operations of the casino Deltin Caravela is set to resume.