Panaji: A group of locals today protested against the anchoring of an offshore casino vessel near Chorao's Salim Ali wildlife sanctuary, a protected bird habitat, near here.
The protesters, led by Congress legislator Pandurang Madkaikar, Independent MLA Rohan Khaunte, social activist Aires Rodrigues, demanded that casino vessel Deltin Caravela, anchored next to the bird sanctuary in river Mandovi on the city outskirts, should be moved away.
They gave a 15-day ultimatum to the state government to shift the casino vessel, failing which they would plan an aggressive agitation.
"Direct revenue to the state government from casino industry is negligible. But people in power are supporting them due to their vested interests," Madkaikar alleged while addressing the protesters near Ribandar jetty, four kilometres from here.
"Wedding and family functions of few officials and ruling party members are sponsored by the casino lobby to keep them happy," he alleged.
Independent legislator Rohan Khaunte, representing Porvorim constituency, claimed prostitution and other crimes have increased due to casinos in the tourist state.
He said, "If Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar has 'love for casinos', he should shift them to his constituency, Mandrem."
Notably, the government had recently renewed the licence of Delta Corporation Ltd's offshore casino?Deltin Caravala, which had sparked controversy.
It has became the fifth offshore casino vessel in the river.
NGOs like Aam Aurat Admi Against Gambling (AAAAG) had held protest last week in Panaji against renewal of licences despite past assurances that the offshore casino vessels would be shifted away from the river.
The CM had said that the government had not allowed new casino but only renewed the old licences.