Panaji, Aug 13 (IANS) The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led coalition government in Goa is hand in glove with the casino industry, a leading women's organisation here alleged Monday.
Sabina Martins, convenor of the Bailancho Saad, said that the BJP-sponsored amendment to the gambling act during the recently concluded monsoon session of the Goa legislative assembly was ample proof of the fact that the regime under Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, who once opposed the casino industry tooth and nail, was now casino-friendly.
Instead of repealing the amendments to the Goa Public Gambling Act (GPGA), which permitted gambling, the government has ensured that offshore casinos stay in inland waters by getting certification from the captain of ports instead of Director General of Shipping, a central government agency, Martins, one of the forebearers of the women's rights movement in Goa, told reporters here.
Parrikar, in his amendment of the GPGA, has roped in a state government agency as a nodal body for certifying fitness of offshore casino vessels, doing away with the earlier norm of getting fitness certification from the Director General of Shipping, which functions under the aegis of the union ministry for shipping.
Parrikar for the last seven years had been leading a charge against offshore casinos parked in the Mandovi river off Panaji, and has now been accused of not driving away casinos from the river into the sea, a promise he made several times.
Parrikar has in the past said that he would appropriately define the word 'offshore' in the (GPGA) act, so that the casino vessels could be parked out in the sea instead of in the Mandovi river. The amendment has not done that too. This chief minister is for the casino industry, Martins said.
She alleged that the word 'offshore' had not been defined in the GPGA, which resulted in the casino vessels being parked in the Mandovi river and not five nautical miles out into the sea, as was the norm with offshore casinos in other parts of the world.
The activist also said that women were the worst sufferers of the casino industry onslaught, because the industry projected women in a bad and immoral way.