Panaji: Goa Suraksha Manch (GSM), on Sunday, issued a ten-day ultimatum to the government and the Chief Minister Pramod Sawant to tender a public apology for making a statement on casinos that they ‘are a part of the tourism industry in Goa.’
While condemning the Chief Minister for making the statement on casinos, the GSM demanded a public apology from him within ten days or else the party will intensify agitation against the casinos. Addressing the media on Sunday, GSM leader Subhash Velingkar said, “The manch will intensify the stir against the casinos,” and urged the like-minded people and NGOs to join them in their fight against casinos in the state.
“GSM will write to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi highlighting the prevailing situation in the state about the casinos,” Swati Kerker, GSM leader, said and added that “by making a cheap statement, the Chief Minister has damaged the image of Goa and Goans, and as such GSM is demanding an apology from him as all Goans are very sensitive and the issue is of very serious nature.”
“A visitor to the city is greeted by casino hoardings everywhere; even police barricades tell you about casinos beside River Mandovi and as a result Panaji has become the alleged capital city of gambling in Goa,” she said
“The BJP came to power by raising the issue of the casinos’ presence in the River Mandovi but now the number of casinos has gone up from one to 8. And, now the Chief Minister is saying casinos are a part and parcel of the tourism industry in Goa,” she added.
“The Chief Minister also went on to say that the casinos are the backbone of tourism industry,” said Atmaram Gaonkar, GSM chief and added that the government has some hidden agenda on casinos and so protecting them despite of the damage being caused to culture and image of Goa.
“We will never allow the casinos to be moved to Pernem near Mopa airport where government has usurped nearly one crore square metres of land from the farmers by paying a pittance and will never allow the government to thrive on money generated from liquor, casinos and prostitution,” Velingkar said.
Kerker said that in the initial stage, the casinos were issued licences for only 6 months but now it appears that they are here permanently with indefinite extensions.