The arrest was made last night in a joint operation of Goa and Mumbai police. (Representational)Panaji: A criminal wanted by Mumbai police in over 30 cases, including murder and extortion, was arrested in Goa while he was boarding a casino ship, an official said on Sunday.The arrest was made on Saturday night in a joint operation of Goa and Mumbai police."Notorious criminal Vikrant Deshmukh, wanted by Mumbai police in connection with 33 different cases, including murder, extortion, dacoity and robbery, was arrested while he was boarding a casino vessel in Panaji," Superintendent of Police (North Goa) Shobhit Saxena told reporters.Deshmukh tried to flee from the spot, but was held by the Panaji police after a chase for some distance, he said.The tip-off about Deshmukh's presence was given by the Goa crime branch, which was working closely with Navi Mumbai police, he said.The SP said that Deshmukh was on the run since the last four years and arrived in Goa two days back for "recreational purpose".PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comA firearm and five bullets were also recovered from the accused, who is currently being interrogated, the official said.(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is hot on the trail of two Hyderabad-based businessmen with ‘big’ connections, for organising gambling events at casinos in Nepal, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and elsewhere, and allegedly illegally transferring crores of rupees to India through hawala operations.The ED conducted raids at the residence of Madhava Reddy and Chikoti Praveen in Bowenpally and Saidabad, respectively, apart from six other locations on July 27. Officials seized laptops, mobile phones, and documents for further analysis.Over four days between June 10 and 13, punters from Telangana are said to have splurged crores of rupees at Casino Vegas by Big Daddy, Nepal’s largest casino, which is located about 20 minutes from Bagdogra airport in West Bengal’s Siliguri. Reddy and Praveen reportedly arranged chartered flights for them to reach Hotel Mechi Crown in eastern Nepal’s Jhapa district from Hyderabad.Based on inputs received and evidence recovered, the ED is investigating the duo for violation of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA).The duo allegedly held similar events in Goa, Sri Lanka and other countries where gambling is legal or regulated for their special invitees from India, by offering special tour packages at the cost of Rs 3 lakh to 5 lakh.Praveen is known for displaying his extravagant lifestyle on social media. On his Instagram profile, he describes himself as “an animal and nature lover”, and adds he “loves to trek in western ghats, part of big daddy casino, goa, luv to gamble (sic)”. On his page, he is seen with film stars such as Mallika Sherawat and Govinda in photographs. Forest Department officials have also inspected Praveen’s farmhouse in Kadthal to check for violations of the Wildlife Protection Act by confining endangered and protected species, as he has posted several photographs of exotic animals and reptiles.Praveen and Reddy allegedly have links with several politicians and film actors. The duo, along with three others, has been asked to appear before the ED for further questioning on Monday. Kumar told reporters he would be meeting ED officials to clarify “certain doubts”, and stressed that casinos are legal in Goa and Nepal.Meanwhile, Telangana Minister Ch Malla Reddy, whose MLA sticker was allegedly found stuck on Reddy’s car, has denied any association with the duo. He told the media that he had removed the sticker from his vehicle and that someone might have used it without his knowledge.Former Andhra Pradesh minister and YSRCP leader Balineni Srinivas Reddy also told reporters that he was in no way linked to Praveen.
Panaji: Goa police on Monday arrested five persons, including two women, for allegedly abducting a casino player after he failed to repay the amount he took from them promising higher returns. Police said the accused had demanded Rs 70 lakh for the casino player’s release. All the five arrested are in the age group of 25 to 35 years and all are highly educated professionals, police said. The complainant came in contact with one of the five accused in March this year. “The complainant told the accused he came in contact with, that he is a good casino player and if he gives him money, he can give him higher returns. On being convinced, the accused gave him money and also introduced his cousin and a friend to him,” police said. “When they asked for their money, the complaint made excuses and to recover their money, they abducted him.” “Five persons, with their common intention, abducted the complainant from his residence and wrongfully confined him in a flat. Thereafter, they assaulted him causing injuries,” police said.
Panaji: Delta Corp Ltd continues to consolidate its position as the largest casino operator – offshore and onshore – in Goa, with the Jaydev Mody-led company formally starting gambling operations at the The Zuri White Sands Goa Resort at Varca. Rebranded as the Deltin Zuri, this is the group’s first venture in South Goa and is currently the only luxury onshore casino in South Goa. “With the commencement of operations of this casino, Delta Corp and its subsidiaries now operate five casinos in Goa,” said company secretary and vice-president Dilip Vaidya in a filing to the bourses. Delta Corp Limited is the only listed company engaged in the casino - live, electronic and online - gaming industry in India. The company holds three of the six offshore gaming licences issued in Goa, with a new casino vessel expected to be deployed in September. In April, The Zuri Hotels and Resorts had announced that it was handing over operations of their in-house onshore casino to Delta Corp. Spread across 37 acres of beach front, Deltin Zuri occupies a prime location in South Goa. Deltin Zuri has more than 50 gaming positions with games like Baccarat, Blackjack, Andar Bahar, Roulette, 3 Card Poker and slot machines, but live gaming is not permitted. Deltin Zuri is the Delta Group’s fourth land-based casino after Deltin Suites-Goa, Deltin Denzong-Gangtok and Deltin Casino International-Kathmandu. The company also owns two offshore casinos ‘Deltin Royale’ and ‘Deltin Jaqk’. According to the company website, Delta Corp has about 1,600 gaming positions in Goa, with the number expected to grow exponentially in the coming five years. The company states that it awaits the government’s dedicated on-shore casino policy and “once this materialises, it will lead to the creation of gaming zones”, which the company expects, will formalise the industry.
Staff ReporterPanajiDelta Corp Ltd., the company that operates casino vessel Deltin Caravela, has said that, it stopped operating the floating casino in compliance with the National Green Tribunal(NGT) order.Following the green tribunal order on April 29, the company in a mandatory BSE stock market filing, under SEBI regulation, on April 31, revealed that, it operates four offshore casinos including Deltin Caravela (now known as King Casino), operated by its subsidiary Highstreet Cruises and Entertainment Pvt.Ltd.(HCEPL).“The revenue from the said casino constitutes approximately 5% of the consolidated revenue for the year 2021-22,” it said.The company said that, based on legal advice it believes that HCEPL is not in violation of the CRZ notification and is pursuing legal remedies to challenge the order of the NGT.However on May 1, the company in another stock market filing said, it operates three offshore casinos. “In continuation of our earlier letter dated April 30, please note that words ‘four offshore casinos’ should be read as ‘three offshore casinos and one onshore casino’,” said the company.It may be remembered that the green tribunal on April 29, had ordered floating casino Deltin Caravela anchored in River Mandovi, to stop operations for not having requisite CRZ clearance under CRZ Notification, 2011.
Staff ReporterPanajiCasino Caravela has filed a petition before the High Court of Bombay at Goa challenging the order of the National Green Tribunal in which the NGT has ordered Caravela to stop the operation of Flotel and casino unless it has CRZ clearance.The High Court is likely to hear this petition next week. The National Green Tribunal has ordered ‘Deltin Caravela’, to stop operations for not having requisite CRZ clearance under CRZ Notification, 2011. Revoking the earlier decision that was in favour of Deltin Caravela (Royal Flotel), the NGT restrained the casino from conducting business, “unless it hasCRZ clearance.” The tribunal also directed the Goa State Pollution Control Board to assess and recover compensation for damage to the environment on account of operations of the casino without the requisite CRZ clearance. “The recovered amount may be utilised for restoration of the environment by preparing an action plan. If the operations are to be resumed, the offshore casino will be required to take consents under the Water and Air Acts from the GSPCB,” said the NGT order.
Staff ReporterPanajiDeciding on a 2016 complaint against offshore casino anchored over River Mandovi, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Friday ordered ‘Deltin Caravela’, to stop operations for not having requisite CRZ clearance under CRZ Notification, 2011.Revoking the earlier decision that was in favour of Deltin Caravela (Royal Flotel), the NGT restrained the casino from conducting business, “unless it has CRZ clearance.”The green tribunal also directed the Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) to assess and recover compensation for damage to the environment on account of operations of the casino without the requisite CRZ clearance.“The recovered amount may be utilised for restoration of the environment by preparing an action plan. If the operations are to be resumed, the offshore casino will be required to take consents under the Water and Air Acts from the GSPCB. While granting such consents, the state pollution board may incorporate appropriate regulatory conditions with regard to treatment of solid and liquid waste generated in the course of operations and also air emissions and other eco-environmental aspects,” said theNGT order.Observing that the casino vessel operated by Highstreet Cruises and Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. is moored in a CRZ – IV classified area and it requires waterfront presence with services of ports and harbours, jetties, quays, wharves, erosion control measures, breakwaters, pipelines, lighthouses, navigational safety facilities, coastal police stations, etc., NGT said that the CRZ notification is intended to preserve coastal environment and permit sustainable activity in the face of threat of climate change.“The purpose of CRZ notification is to protect the ecologically fragile coastal areas and to safeguard the aesthetic qualities and uses of the sea coast,” said the order.It may be noted that in 2016, RTI activist Kashinath Shetye along with traditional fishermen of Ribandar and adjoining areas had filed a complaint with GCZMA alleging CRZ violations by Deltin Caravela caused by construction activities for mooring and anchoring by flouting Ports Act, Air Act, Water Act, Gambling Act and Notification of Government of Fisheries.The complaint by the RTI activist was together with fishermen as well as villagers from Ribandar, Chimbel, Brittona, Chorao, Sao Pedro and Diwar. The villagers said that the casino will permanently affect the activities of the local traditional fishermen and their livelihood and also impact the safe plying of ferries – the only public transportation from Ribandar to Chorao and Diwar. Further, they had said that Deltin Caravela is in close proximity to the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary.However in 2017, the complaint was dismissed by GCZMA which said that, the casino did not require CRZ clearance as it received NOCs from different government departments and therefore did not floutany rules.
Panaji: Delta Corp has decided to challenge the National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) order to stop operations at its off-shore casino Deltin Caravela. While the NGT said that the offshore flotel in the Mandovi does not have coastal regulation zone (CRZ) clearance, the gaming company believes that it is not in violation of CRZ norms. Deltin Caravela (also known as King Casino) is one of the four offshore casinos operated by Delta Corp and contributes around 5% of the consolidated revenue of the company in 2021-2022. The NGT has said that the activity cannot resume till Highstreet Cruises and Entertainment Private Limited (HCEPL), a subsidiary of Delta Corp, obtains CRZ clearance. “Based on legal advice, the company believes that HCEPL is not in violation of the CRZ Notification and HCEPL is pursuing legal remedies to challenge the order of the National Green Tribunal,” said Delta Corp’s company secretary and vice-president, Dilip Vaidya. The Goa state pollution control board (GSPCB) has been asked to assess and recover compensation for the environmental damage caused by the offshore activity taking place without the required clearances. Applicant Kashinath Shetye had raised the issue of requirement for CRZ clearance for the flotel to operate. The tribunal noted that as per the CRZ notification of 2011, a clearance is needed to carry out any activity within the CRZ, which requires waterfront and foreshore facilities.
Panaji: Confident of the growth potential of Goa’s casino industry, Delta Corp, which operates on-shore and off-shore casinos under the Deltin brand, aims to bring in a new casino vessel into River Mandovi by August-September. The new vessel is likely to replace the Deltin Caravela and will increase the company’s current capacity by 2.5 times, said the company’s chief financial officer, Hardik Dhebar. Dhebar, who was addressing analysts in a conference recently, also said that while the state government has approved the proposal for a 100 acre entertainment and casino complex at Pernem, “official communication” has yet to come through. In February 2021, TOI had reported that Delta Corp would invest Rs 150 crore to build a new casino vessel which will be anchored in Mandovi by mid-2022. “It’s a replacement for our existing vessel. And in terms of capacity, our current capacity is about 1,800 to 2,000 gaming positions. That should go up by at least 2.5 times,” said Dhebar. “And we’ll add another 1,500 gaming positions once the land-based casino comes.” Dhebar said that the new vessel would be ready around monsoon, but Delta Corp will not bring in the casino vessel because of the closure of the mouth of the river because of the Aguada sandbar. In July 2017, MV Lucky 7, a vessel owned by former Haryana home minister Gopal Kanda, ignored warnings by port authorities and tried to enter the river Mandovi only to run aground on Miramar beach. Earlier in April, the gaming company reported that its net profit declined to Rs 48.1 crore in the January-March quarter as against Rs 57.7 crore the same time a year ago. The spread of the Omicron strain and the curbs imposed in Goa because of the election code of conduct affected footfalls in the four off-shore casinos that Delta Corp operates in Goa. When analysts queried Dhebar about the integrated resort-cum-casino at Pernem, he said that the company is still waiting for formal clearances. The project will include electronic casinos, themed hotels, water parks and theatres, and will be developed on 100 acres of land close to the under-construction airport at Mopa. “With regards to our 100-acre parcel, we have got the approval from the cabinet. And we are waiting for the official communication to come by. We are ready as far as our project is concerned, to commence work. Our endeavor would be to start the casino as soon as possible,” said Dhebar. He estimates that it will take 48 months to complete and an investment of Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,500 crore. Currently, Delta Corp employs over 2,500 people in Goa, and once the Pernem project is complete, the Jaydev Mody-led company will employ close to 7,000 - 8,000 people.
Panaji: The home department has framed rules to streamline and regulate casino operations. A senior government officer said that the rules have been sent to chief minister Pramod Sawant for final approval. In March 2019, the state government had appointed the commissioner of commercial taxes as the gaming commissioner, but since the rules were not framed, his duties were not defined. The senior government officer said that once approved and notified, it will be the first time that such rules for regulating casino operations will come into force. As per the draft rules, the gaming commissioner is empowered to exercise overall control over the games conducted in the designated areas and is authorised to maintain the records and documents in connection with the games. The senior officer said that as per the proposed rules, the gaming commissioner will have the power to issue entry tickets for the casinos. Presently, the entry tickets are directly issued by the casino operators. Once the rules come into force, the gaming commissioner will maintain a record of the number of visitors to a casino. “Next day, the gaming commissioner will be able to check the inventory to find how many people entered a casino,” the officer said while elaborating about the rule. The senior officer said that casino licencing and collection of annual recurring fees is handled by the home department, once the rules come into force, the gaming commissioner will monitor the casino operations. The senior officer further said that in case of any complaint, the home department looks into it, but once the rules are notified, the gaming commissioner will be empowered to take cognisance and act accordingly. The proposed rules will give the commissioner the right to order closure, to seal any casino in a five-star hotel or to take custody of any casino vessel if there are any violations, the senior officer said. While exercising this power, the commissioner will have to make an inventory of all the items taken into custody, the senior officer said. In his budget speech, the chief minister had said, “My government intends to notify new rules for casino operations in the state under the Goa, Daman and Diu Public Gambling Act, 1976, which will streamline and regulate the operations of casinos in the state.” The state government had notified the Goa Public Gaming (Amendment) Act, 2012, to ban the entry of Goans into the six offshore and nine onshore casinos in the state from February 1, 2019. The senior officer said that the ban on entry of Goans into casinos has not been implemented as the government’s decision has been challenged in the high court. Goa has six offshore casinos and dozens of onshore casinos.
Panaji: The Regional Transport Office (RTO) along with Corporation of City of Panaji (CCP) on Friday clamped vehicles that were found parked haphazardly in the city. Among these were several taxi vehicles found occupying more than 100 parking spaces meant for the public, CCP mayor Rohit Monserrate said. “According to their licences, taxis owners are not allowed to park vehicles and operate their business from the city’s parking spaces which are meant for the public. Lots of people visit the city for work and have their businesses here. We told the taxi operators to park outside the city and enter when they receive a call,” said Monserrate, who was accompanied by CCP commissioner Agnelo Fernandesduring the drive. The violators were fined between Rs 2,000 to Rs 12,000, he said, where some were also found without valid insurance and pollution certificates. The taxis also occupy paid parking slots, with some not paying fees. “Even if they pay, as per their licences, they not allowed to park their vehicles in the city. They just leave their parked vehicles there. This is not bringing any economic benefit to the city. They’re blocking parking slots of people who want to patronise the city,” Monserrate said, adding that many private car owners were left with no choice but to haphazardly park their vehicles after parking slots were blocked by taxi operators. “If these spots were free, then people who come to Panaji for business, work and other purposes can use them. The drives will be conducted regularly, and this is a practical way to free up around 100 parking spaces without having any additional infrastructure,” he said. There have also been complaints of casino workers blocking entrances of locals in the city, as well as of tourist vehicles dropping off tourists to offshore casino desks and obstructing traffic flow in the city.
Panaji: Panaji police on Sunday arrested 11 persons for illegal gambling following a raid at a starred hotel at Panaji, and seized over Rs 27 lakh in cash, among other items including gambling chips. Deputy superintendent of police (DySP) Sudesh Naik said that the raid was conducted at Hotel Crown. PI Suraj Gawas said that the case has been registered under provisions of The Goa Daman and Diu Public Gambling Act, 1976. Police said the hotel had a casino licence, however, they were conducting live gaming which is not permissible in onshore casinos as per the Act. Gawas said that Kamal Deep Singh, a UP resident; Katikapalli Paramesh, Navin Kumar, Pakker Akhil, all residents of Hyderabad; and Manjunath Chalavadi and Sanjay, both residents of Karnataka, were caught red-handed while playing a game of chance locally known as ‘Andar Bahar’. Gawas said Valmiki Pinheiro, gaming manager and a resident of Salcete, casino dealers Sarvesh, from Sattari, Chandrabahadur Pradhan, from Sikkim, Maniram Tharu, from Nepal, and Nirmal Kumar Chowdhari, cashier and a resident of Nepal, allowed the live card game that was being played in a close premises. Gawas said that during the raid, police seized different gambling chips numbering 671 of various values, playing cards, two numbers of tables, eight chairs and cash of over Rs 27 lakh.
Police arrest 11 people, seize over Rs 27 lakh in cashPanaji: The Panaji police raided a casino at a star hotel in the city in the intervening night of Saturday and Sunday for illegally operating live gaming. They arrested 11 people and seized over `27 lakh in cash in connection with the case.Of the 11 arrested people, six were customers and five were the casino staff including the gaming manager, casino dealers, and the cashier, the police said, adding that the casino was illegally operating live gaming.The accused customers were caught playing the game of chance, locally know as ‘andar bahar’; the accused casino staff allowed the particular gambling activity without permission from the competent authority.The police seized `27.13 lakh in cash, 671 gaming chips, playing cards and other articles.They explained that live gaming is permitted only in offshore casinos, while the onshore casinos are permitted to conduct only electronic gaming.Police sources said the casino operator was illegally conducting live gaming to rake in good profits and also due to the fact that live gaming attracts more customers as compared to the electronic gaming which, some people believe, is rigged.The raid was conducted by a team of the Panaji police led by police inspector Suraj Gawas under the supervision of deputy superintendent of police Sudesh Naik.
Panaji: The state government has directed La Calypso Hotel Pvt Ltd to stop its casino operations for failure to pay dues of over Rs 47 crore and for subletting the casino. As per under secretary (Home-I) Pritidas Gaonkar’s order, the licensee will also have to pay “penal interest for delayed payment calculated at the rate of 18% per year...within 15 days of receipt of this order, failing which the amount shall be recovered as arrears of land revenue”. Gaonkar said that the licensee was directed to pay the first installment of over Rs 17 crores upfront and the remaining amount of Rs 10 crore in six months or earlier, within seven days from the date of issue of challan, failing which penal interest was to be charged. “Both challans were issued to the licensee. However, the licensee has till date not paid Rs 10 crore along with applicable penal interest. Further, the licensee has also defaulted in the payment of the annual recurring fees from the month of November 2020,” he said. Further, Gaonkar said that following a showcause notice for non-payment of outstanding dues to the government, CMD of La Calypso Hotel Pvt Ltd, Kaushal Khanna, submitted that the licensee had given the casino operation to M/s Atlantis Entertainment and later to M/s Beyond Motion India Pvt Ltd From November 2020 to September 2021 the casino was closed on account of Covid restrictions imposed, Khanna said. The licensee has requested that the dues be recovered from M/s Atlantis Entertainment (Rs 27 crore) and M/s Beyond Motion India Pvt Ltd. Gaonkar in his order stated that there is no provision to sublet casino operations to a third party, and as such is in violation of the provisions of the Goa Gambling Act, 1976. “Considering all facts, the government is satisfied that the claims made by licensee are not justified and in view of the condition the license issued to M/s La Calypso hotel Pvt Ltd stands suspended with immediate effect,” Gaonkar said. Stating licensee is willing to pay the necessary fees but “prays that a humanitarian approach be adopted and his case be sympathetically considered”, the CMD of La Calypso Hotel Pvt Ltd further submitted that M/s Beyond Motion India Pvt Ltd had agreed to pay the fees from the month of October 2021, which till date has not been paid. “M/s Beyond Motion India Pvt Ltd shall be held responsible for the said payment,” Khanna said. Requesting that over Rs 27 crore be recovered from M/s Atlantis Entertainment, Khanna submitted that an amount of over Rs 17 was paid by M/s Atlantis Entertainment and the remaining amount of Rs 10 crore was forcefully pushed on the licensee for payment, which was illegal and arbitrary.
Panaji: Chief minister Pramod Sawant said that the state government will notify new rules to streamline and regulate casino operations. Goa has six offshore casinos and dozens of onshore casinos. Sawant said that the state will launch a programme titled ‘Global Goans’ to engage Non-Resident Goans with Goans residing in the state. “My government intends to notify new rules for casino operations in the state under the Goa, Daman and Diu Public Gambling Act, 1976, which will streamline and regulate the operations of casinos in the state,” the CM said. Goa police would be modernised, he said. The police department has been provided with a total outlay of Rs 980 crore, which is a rise of 41%. “I propose to undertake modernisation of all departments under the administrative control of the Home Department”. “Redesigning and reconstruction of the existing building at the Fire Force Headquarters, Panaji, construction of a fire station building at Bicholim, and construction of a fire station building at Valpoi has been entrusted to GSIDC for which a provision of Rs 21 crore has been made. I also propose to construct or relocate the fire stations at Pernem and Canacona,” Sawant said. The state has seen a rise in child and women abuse cases, and the CM said that the Goa Victim Compensation Scheme has been amended to cover more victims for which a provision of Rs 30 lakh has been made. He said that the state government has reconstituted the State Police Complaints Authority for which Rs 1.9 crore has been earmarked and a provision of Rs 6 crore has been made for the Goa Human Rights Commission. The government in consultation with the ministry of external affairs, New Delhi, will promote Goan goods and services of export interest through the Indian Missions and Posts, in various foreign countries.
Special CorrespondentPanajiFormer Captain of Ports and Congress leader Elvis Gomes on Sunday said that it is not only the Panaji ferryboat ramp area that has been handed over to a casino company by the government, but even waters abutting the ramp have been given away for putting up a floating jetty, which could endanger the age-old Panaji-Betim ferry operations.He also called upon the vigilance department to launch a full-scale investigation into the affairs of the department of the river navigation.Gomes had recently raised the issue about closure of the public toilet at the ferry point to allow a casino company to set up its office at the ramp.“Mandovi is now Panaji’s envy, Casinos’ Pride,” retorted Gomes, stating that the information made available to him suggests that corruption going up to the highest level in the state was responsible for putting the lives of ferry passengers and crew indanger.“I have said it before and I am saying it again,” he said, adding that a minister in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government with active support of the senior officers of the Captain of Ports office, which oversees the department of river navigation, has shown keen interest in defiance of all norms and even observations of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India.Gomes also said he would file proceedings soon, demanding investigations into the particular decision of the government.
As Goa is on the threshold of the assembly elections, the heat of the polls is clearly felt in the capital city with Utpal Parrikar taking up the cudgels against criminalisation of politics. Utpal, who has left the Bharatiya Janata Party to contest as an Independent candidate, feels that he is in for a big fight and is risking his political career. In an exclusive interview with ‘The Navhind Times’, he shares his vision for Panaji, while stating that he has trust in good people and good things in life. Excerpts from the interview:Says criminalisation in social life, in general and criminalisation in politics, in particular need to be foughtRamnath N. Pai RaikarPanaji: During your first ever electoral campaign as a candidate, how responsive are the voters to you?I started my door-to-door campaign in Panaji nearly 3 months ago. I am constantly in touch with the people as well as my supporters, at a personal level. I am clearly sensing a feeling among the people that there is a need for change, in the capital city. I can feel the vibes of energy for a change. The people have established connect with me and they are having high expectations from me. I will do my best to fulfill these expectations, if given an opportunity.What are the thrust areas of your manifesto for the Panaji voters?It is in fact a vision document for Panaji to solve the issues with the application of mind. I have seen Baba (Manohar Parrikar) working in the political field, for at least past two to three decades. This is my political experience, in my secondary role that would prove to be very important for me in the public life. The primary area I want to take up is government jobs. Today, the youth have zero trust in the exams conducted for government jobs. In fact, 95% of these jobs go to the people, in the constituency of the minister, whose department has generated these jobs. I want the Panaji youth to get jobs available in Panaji. I also want to withdraw the discretionary power of the ministers to allot jobs. Secondly, pay parking system has been a great bane for residents as well as businessmen of Panaji. Now very few people visit the city for small purchases or snacks as it would mean parking fees for the vehicle. I see the parking fees affecting the business vibrancy in the city. I feel that they should introduce coupon validation system as done in the US, for parking of vehicles of the locals, or for that matter, give total exemption from fees to the local residents. I would also like to reserve some spaces for parking in the city, in low utility areas such as godowns, which could be shifted outside the city. Then there is a drainage problem resulting in floods in the city, during the monsoons, especially in Mala area. Furthermore the potholed roads in Panaji are not fit to be the roads of a capital city. I have spoken about all these things in my manifesto.How do you look at the casino problems haunting the citizens of Panaji?For one thing, I don’t want to give 100-day promises to people to remove casinos from River Mandovi. Secondly, I see these offshore casinos as an environmental issue. It is very important to ensure that the garbage from these floating casinos is not disposed in water, and there is either a sewage treatment plant or garbage treatment plant for the purpose. Secondly, the parking problem is created in the areas around the boarding jetties of the casinos, especially during weekends. This nuisance could be eliminated by shifting the casino-linked taxies to the multi-level car parking lot or reserving some area for them outside the city. Furthermore, the boarding jetties of the casino could also be shifted outside the city. Finally, all the illegal activities taking place in the vicinity due to the existence of casinos are due to the zero policing. They can be tackled by the police. As for the major decisions related to casinos, the government should come out with a policy. It is sad to see that the government has got addicted to the revenue generated from the casinos and hence reluctant to take any decision. In fact, the government is like a hungry animal, which is famished for more casino revenue.The city also suffers problem of organised begging activities. The beggars are brought to the city in a vehicle in the morning and taken away at night. This also needs to be stopped.You have spoken about criminalisation of politics. Is it restricted to the BJP candidate against whom you are contesting?Criminalisation in social life, in general and criminalisation in politics, in particular need to be fought. I am now in a position to fight criminalisation in politics, in Panaji. It would be one battle at a time. I know this is my biggest fight and a very risky one too. I have risked my entire political future. However, I have trust in good people and good things in life. A mechanism does exist to bring this fight to a logical end. People have a very important role to play in this mechanism. If people are not careful, the next cycle of governance will be corrupt, as those who have distributed money to get elected would be busy in recovering this money.The city has a recurring internal transportation problem…The internal transport for the city needs better quality vehicles. We can also make use of the transportation-related projects under the Smart City Mission. In fact, I will audit all Smart City projects. The Mission should undertake development and upgradation of the city in a comprehensive manner; there is no logic in taking up projects under the Mission in a piecemeal manner. And the projects should not be ornamental in nature. If you see, even the footpaths in the city are not uniform and people have to focus all their attention on walking carefully and hence cannot enjoy their walks in Panaji.Don’t you feel it is a difficult task for an Independent MLA to get support from any government to develop his constituency?An independent MLA can always get issue-based support from any government. My father managed to get it when he was the leader of the opposition, and represented Panaji. I will force my voice on the government to get things done for Panaji constituency. I will be another Parrikar in the assembly using my voice to create leverage, for getting the works done. Today what we are missing in assembly is a strong voice. If one Parrikar was people’s voice in the assembly, another can do it too. Ironically, the current Panaji MLA rarely spoke in the assembly.Doubts are being expressed that if you are elected as an MLA and the BJP returns to power, you may support the government for the sake of old ties.I have already made it clear that I would be working as an Independent MLA in and outside the assembly, for my constituency and Goa. For me my word is important and I will stick to it. I believe in trust of the word given by a person and not in affidavits written on paper. Now, when I am fighting as an Independent candidate, I am receiving support from across the political spectrum, including many of the BJP loyalists. I will never think of switching sides as I feel that it is imperative to stop defections from party to party. If I wanted, I could have accepted offers from any one of the many parties, which were eager to have me contesting on their candidature, in Panaji. But I took a different stance of contesting as an Independent candidate. I don’t want to compromise with my credibility.
Luis DiasThe title might read better in Konkani. It came to mind because of the paternalistic attitude of our city fathers in taking momentous decisions that not only irretrievably alter the city’s landscape, but also impoverish it.For the past few months, my neighbourhood looks like a war zone, with trench-deep gutters dug into perfectly usable pavements and adjoining stretches of road. There’s never been any taking of us, the residents, into confidence. It was a fait accompli even before the first pickaxe dug into earth, tarmac, tile or whatever dared lie in its way. If the digging involved the unceremonious chopping of the roots of proud trees that have stood tall for at least a century (there are photographs to testify to this), then so be it.If vital parking spaces had to be blocked to accommodate heaps of stones, rubble and other building materials (and they have lain there unused for weeks, because for some mysterious reason, the worker teams have vanished), further adding to the woes of long-suffering residents, then so be that too.Panaji is the capital of our country’s most-visited state, a national and international tourist destination. And yet there seems to be no sense of shame in showcasing our own Urbs Prima in a deplorable state.Let’s leave aside the tackiness of the casino hoardings and the garish flashing signs that can probably be seen from outer space (the casino menace is a whole other chapter) and let’s just look at basic civic amenities and rights, like just the right to be able to walk through our city unimpeded.Trenches and gutters are left open for weeks on end, with absolutely no cordoning off, cautionary signage or phosphorescent markers to prevent unwary pedestrians from doing themselves an injury. If such work has to be done at all (and that in itself is questionable), why can’t one just get it over with as quickly as possible?Jagged sheets of glass have languished in a corner on a busy pavement around the Head Post Office for weeks, as if waiting in ambush for an unsuspecting child to run into them. The degree of callous neglect beggars belief.All this disruption, we’re told (but only when we can pin down someone who seems to be in charge, to actually talk to) is part of the ‘Smart Cities Mission’.Intrigued, I visited that government website. Its ostensible objective is “to improve the quality of life of people.” And among all the “core infrastructure elements” it is committed to deliver, all of which are sorely in need of improvement in our city, adequate and assured water and electricity; sanitation, including solid waste management; efficient public transport; affordable housing, especially for the poor; health and education; good governance, especially citizen participation. (Please underline those last two words),what do our city fathers decide to prioritise? Public surveillance, of course.Isn’t it a contradiction in terms, that an initiative purportedly committed to ‘good governance, especially citizen participation’ decides to steamroll its harebrained mutilation and defacement of one of the city’s most charming wards without talking even to residents in the vicinity, let alone the rest of the citizenry?As if this wasn’t insult enough, here’s another injury. After public outcry at the Smart Mission officials ensconcing themselves in the heritage Adil Shah Palace, where do they decide to shift to? Not to the ample office space at Patto. Oh, no! Why, when one can commandeer another heritage landmark jewel in the city, the cluster of buildings comprising the ‘Old PWD’ (the erstwhile Obras Pública of the pre-Liberation era) stretching from the old Patto bridge to the riverfront.The “nature of the work” according to the “Imagine Panaji” signboard tacked onto the tall (protective or concealing?) corrugated fencing is apparently “Restoration, Refurbishment and Interior Design” of its headquarters.In response to an appeal from the Goa Heritage Action Group, I met other concerned citizens one afternoon recently, and we visited the site. It was absolutely horrifying to witness the carnage inside. It pains me to share current pictures, as they are such a shocking contrast to the beautiful ambience it had been.That majestic overarching tree you see in the picture that silently served the city with cooling shade and as air purifier, a long-standing arboreal citizen has been brutally hacked down to a stump.Intricate tiled floors have been left exposed to debris from demolition rubble, walls have been torn down. Where has all the old wood gone?The CCP (Corporation of City of Panaji) issued a press statement that no order was issued by them for the demolition (yes, that’s what it is, not restoration) of the complex. Who then did? Surely permission ought to be obtained from some responsible body before commencing any work on a heritage structure? What about us, the people? Why doesn’t what we think and feel matter?Many of us would have visited it during the last edition of the Serendipity Arts Festival in December 2019, weeks before the pandemic and lockdown. The Festival director Smriti Rajgarhia then had called Panaji “a beautiful town, meant to be a festival city.” She spoke of the charm of the old PWD complex, with its proximity to both the river and the Rua de Ourem creek.I quote her not because of her position, but to emphasise how someone even from the ‘outside’ looking at our heritage is able to appreciate its unique identity, its aesthetic value and potential, while to our bureaucrats and politicians, it’s just some soulless space.Many thoughts come to mind. The first is the accusation commonly leveled at all Goenkars: Why didn’t you protest sooner, and nip things in the bud? Once the damage is done, it’s too late to retrieve the irretrievable. I feel this even more acutely, as this is literally my backyard.All I can say is that one still assumes (wrongly, a lot of the time, it must be said) that when a government or other authoritative body begins work, that it will be done in a proper manner. By the time one realises the fallacy of the assumption, it very often is late, if not too late.The pandemic has compounded matters, as by remaining indoors, we see less of what is happening even in our vicinity. There’s also problem overload and activism fatigue. If one tries to count burning issues currently raging in Goa right now, one would run out of fingers and toes.I was born after Portuguese rule ended. But increasingly, far from feeling as if we have self-rule or autonomy in charting our destiny, one gets a sense of being a settler-colony, where the rulers come from Delhi or elsewhere, not here. And just as some of our people colluded with the Portuguese in sustaining their Estado here, our politicians and bureaucrats collude with our neo-colonisers now instead of representing the wishes of the citizenry. Our feelings and sentiments about our own lived spaces can be ridden over rough-shod, with no explanation or apology. This is how I (and I’m sure I speak for many others) have felt for some time now.
COLVA: Four persons were arrested for allegedly damaging property at a Varca-based starred hotel after being refused entry into the casino without identification and Covid RT-PCR certificate. Security personnel Naresh Pal, in his complaint to Colva police, stated that the accused arrived in a Goa registered vehicle at the casino. At the security checkpoint, the accused were asked to produce identification and RT-PCR negative certificates. Enraged over the protocol, Venancio Pereira, William Dias and Simon Dias, residents of Gogol, Margao, and Joseph Mario Fernandes from Loutolim verbally abused the complainant and his colleague Sunil Kamble, and assaulted Pal, causing him injuries. The accused then damaged the glass and other articles at the entrance of the casino, and later fled the scene. The loss was mentioned as Rs 2 lakh, police said. Police have registered an offence under Sections 504, 341, 506 (ii), 323 and 427 read with 34 of the Indian Penal Code.he accused were later produced before judicial magistrate first class for conditional bail.
Panaji: Union tourism minister G Kishan Reddy said here on Saturday that “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. “If Goa benefits from it, we can definitely do it. But there is no need to do it. People have already given Goa that title,” he said in response to a question whether the Centre has plans to declare Goa as the casino capital of India. Reddy said people come to Goa for casinos. “They are either here or in Sikkim (both places were casinos are allowed),” he said in the presence of Union minister of state for tourism and North Goa MP Shripad Naik. Although Goa has six offshore casinos and a dozen onshore casinos in starred hotels, the state is yet to come out with a casino policy to regulate their operations. The offshore casinos are in the Mandovi, and the ports department is looking at alternative sites to relocate them but have failed to do so for years. Former chief minister Manohar Parrikar 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. Panaji MLA Atanasio ‘Babush’ Monserrate, in his election manifesto, had promised to move casinos out of the Mandovi within 100 days of getting elected, but later said that they were required in the river for the business community.