Congress condemns relocation of offshore casino near Goa bird sanctuary

Panaji:The Congress in Goa on Tuesday condemned the government's decision to anchor an offshore casino vessel near Dr. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary located on the outskirts of this city. The government, Congress spokesperson Sunil Kawthankar said, had breached all norms of propriety by allowing the casino vessel, the biggest of the five operational offshore casinos in the state, to berth near the bird sanctuary which is home to several threatened avian species.  "The casino vessel should be removed and relocated somewhere else immediately. This is the only bird sanctuary in Goa. The government has crossed all lines with this decision," Kawthankar said. With the addition of the latest casino, Goa has five operational casino ships parked off Panaji in the Mandovi river. The opposition as well as civil society groups have criticised the BJP-led coalition government for favouring the casino lobby over the last few years. Reacting to the charge, Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar said the government had violated no rule by parking the casino ship near the sanctuary and the argument that the buffer zone around the sanctuary had been violated by the relocation of the casino ship was improper. "This is not an issue at all. Even the city of Panaji comes under the buffer zone of the sanctuary," Parsekar said.