Panaji, Sep 27 (IANS) The Goa Congress on Friday opposed the state’s BJP-led coalition government’s proposal to relocate offshore casinos parked in the Mandovi river off Panaji, to the Aguada bay area, saying the move could endanger humpbacked dolphins which are known to frequent the picturesque area.
“We strongly condemn the state government’s proposal to relocate the offshore casinos in the Mandovi river to the Aguada bay. The area is home to the dolphin species, which will be put at risk if the casinos are shifted there,” state Congress spokesperson Agnelo Fernandes told reporters here.
The Aguada bay is one of the several calmer stretches of seas off Goa’s coastline, frequented by dolphins and also popular for dolphin sighting rides among tourists. Centuries ago, the bay was used by Portuguese trade and military ships to draw water from a reservoir built for the purpose at the Aguada Fort in Sinquerim beach village.
The Congress spokesperson’s comment comes at a time, when the Goa government is in the process of relocating the casinos off the banks of Panaji, amid protests from the opposition and civil society groups.
The state’s Garbage Management Minister Michael Lobo, a legislator from the Calangute Assembly constituency, has been backing the relocation of the casinos to his constituency.
“The casinos generate a lot of revenue and jobs. I would not mind them being shifted to my constituency,” Lobo said.
There are currently five offshore casinos parked in the Mandovi river off Panaji.
Relocation of the offshore casinos in 100 days, had been one of the key poll agendas of the Panaji MLA Atanasio Monserrate ahead of the May 2019 bypoll.
Monserrate who was elected on a Congress ticket, later joined the BJP.