PANAJI: Aam Aadmi Party leader Rahul Mhambre strongly condemned Union tourism minister G Kishan Reddy for branding Goa as the ‘casino capital’ of the country.
During his last visit, Union tourism minister G Kishan Reddy said, “people have already given casino capital title to Goa and the Centre was open to declaring it as the “casino capital of India”, if it benefits the state.
Mhambre stated that the tourism minister himself stating that Goa should be made country’s casino capital is no surprise to Goa. It is well known that casinos are always funded by BJP all this while.
He said, “the BJP party had launched an agitation against casinos ahead of the assembly elections in 2012. BJP had fought the election on the issue of removing offshore casinos from the Mandovi, but over the past 10 years despite running the government, the party has failed to relocate them. Every six months, the state government takes a decision to grant an extension to them to continue in the Mandovi”.
Currently, Goa tourism development corporation (GTDC) plans to set up a mega entertainment village spread over 1.5 lakh sqm in Mandrem.
Mhambre demanded that the government need to take residents of the villages into consideration before announcing the project. He said, “The land is not the private property of MLAs and found it surprising that time and again the Government was not taking Goans into confidence before setting up mega projects”.
“It may be recalled that in 2016, an Interim Tourism Policy showed that a “Gaming District” was proposed along the Chapora River in North Goa. This master plan showed casino-based tourism in large parts of Pernem and Bardez talukas. After a public uproar, this part of the Tourism Policy was shelved, and the issue was swept under the carpet. However, it appears the same master plan is being executed, but in a piecemeal fashion to avoid a public backlash. This entertainment city is the first piece of the overall master plan”, he said.
AAP insists that the villagers who will be impacted should be consulted first, and all their opinions must be brought on board before such projects are implemented, he added.