Sunday, March 20, 2011

Goa's offshore casinos running without mandatory NOCs, by Greg Tingle

Three offshore casinos, including India's biggest one, have been operating on the Mandovi river in Goa without a mandatory no objection certificate (NOC) for nearly two years, a minister said Wednesday.

Minister for Ports Nilkanth Halarnkar told the Goa legislative assembly that the three casino vessels were operating on expired NOCs.

'Action will be taken against these casino operators if they do not provide the required NOCs by April,' Halarnkar assured the assembly after the opposition grilled the minister for allowing the casinos to operate illegally.

The casinos with expired NOCs are M.V. Casino Royale, M.V. San Domino and M.V. Boa Sorte. NOCs of the first two expired in 2009.

Casino Royale is India's largest casino vessel. It has five operational decks with over 12,000 sq ft of gaming area, and has 50 gaming tables and 30 slot machines.

Even ruling bench legislators took the minister to task over the failure to check contamination of the Mandovi river due to sewage discharged by the seven casino vessels anchored on it.

"Fish are vanishing from the Mandovi river because of contamination of its waters following illegal sewage discharge from the casino vessels. The Arabian sea is pushing the sewage inwards into the river, further contaminating it," Congress legislator Dayanand Narvekar told the assembly.

Speaker Pratapsingh Rane has asked the state environment ministry to probe into the contamination issue.

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