he Congress questioned on Wednesday the Goa government’s decision to set up casinos at the proposed international airport at Mopa in North Goa. Chief Minister Pramod Sawant had recently said in the state Assembly that the proposed greenfield airport will have casinos, besides hotels and other facilities in it.
GMR International has won the contract to build and operate this airport, which would be the second such facility in the state once commissioned in 2021 – the first being Goa International Airport at Dabolim –. Talking to reporters on Wednesday, leader of opposition Digambar Kamat said the Gambling Act does not allow casinos to be set up at an airport.
“The Goa Gambling Act defines where casinos can be operated in the state. So far, there is nothing in the act that allows casinos to be set up at the airport,” Kamat, a former chief minister, said. “I don’t know how the government signed with the concessioner that casinos would be allowed at the airport. That is the fundamental question,” Kamat added, according to Garavi Gujarat.
Kamat said he would raise this question in the ongoing monsoon session of the Assembly. Responding to a question tabled by BJP MLA Wilfred De Sa earlier this week, Sawant had said in the House that 232 acres of land at the airport has been earmarked for commercial development. Apart from casinos, hotels of various categories, eco-adventure and wellness resorts, as well as a shopping plaza would be constructed at the Mopa airport, he said.
The upcoming airport would have the capacity to handle 30 million passengers. A part of it would be complete and running in 2020. In addition to casinos, passengers can expect wellness resorts, eco-resorts, a range of hotels, restaurants, entertainment zones, shopping arcades and more at the airport, as reported by Times of India. The demand for another airport in the state has been there from years now, with the current airport seeing passengers from around the world and the country in massive numbers.
Unlike most other airports, the casinos at this one would be accessible to only those who are landing/boarding from the airport. It is believed that the decision has been made owing to the opposition from civil society and the opposition party regarding casinos in Goa. The rejection has also led to the relocation of a number of existing offshore casinos on Mandovi River in the state.
While the hunt for a new site for the casinos is still on, this new move is seen supporting stricter control over casinos in the state, as there’s a lot of speculation around the casinos in the state because of the negative impact they are said to have on local culture and environmental ecosystems.