The Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) announced Friday a 100% increase in sewage monitoring fees for offshore casinos. The board set the former RS 5,000 ($62.93) daily fee on working days to be RS 10,000 ($125.87) per trip, and RS 12,000 ($151.04) on holidays and non-working days. There are a total of six ship casinos on the Mandovi river.
This is the first time that the fee has seen any changes since 2018. According to member secretary Shamila Monteiro, given the rates had remained unchanged for four years, and due to the manpower required to be available on call, the amount needed to be enhanced.
The GSPCB supervises the discharge of sewage from casinos to night soil tankers, as per the orders of the high court. The GSPCB had earlier appointed TUV SUD South Asia Pvt Ltd for undertaking a water audit of the six floating casino vessels operating in river Mandovi at Panjim to identify and evaluate potential environmental impacts, especially due to the disposal of sewage during the operation of these casinos.
The report by TUV SUD highlighted that while the gaming section of all the casinos was clean and neatly maintained in regards to the dry and wet waste receptacle placement and storage, the marine section was found to be very poor in storage and handling of hazardous waste including its inventory.
Deltin Royale, another example of an offshore casino in Goa
"Members were apprehensive about the hike in rates, but the same was justified as the board is required to station its manpower throughout the week and on-call. After deliberations, it was decided to revise the rates prospectively," said GSPCB chairman Mahesh Patil on the monitoring fee hike.
In December last year, Union Minister of State (MoS) for Jal Shakti Bishweswar Tudu informed Rajya Sabha —Council of States, or upper house of India's parliament—that the off-shore casinos in River Mandovi are not causing any pollution in the river.
Meanwhile, the board has decided to hold an international conference on environmental sustainability initiatives along with an expo. The date remains to be set, although officials said it’d probably be in October or November. According to Monteiro, eminent speakers would be invited to the event, as reported by the Times of India.
The board chairman said that Rs 1 crore ($125,839) has been budgeted for the event and that the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) Goa Chapter and the Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) would-be partners.