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Following a protest by Goa Congress who, on Wednesday announced a 24-hour deadline for removal of the alleged encroachment by Maharaja Casino on the pavement outside the Captain of Ports (CoP) jetty in Panjim, the Goa State Infrastructure Development Corporation (GSIDC) has sprung into action to remove the metal barricades along the pavement. Today, the GSIDC team reached the spot and started removing the barricades.
On May 30, the Goa Pradesh Congress Committee members led by State Goa Spokesperson Siddhanath Buyao and Mahila Congress leader, Advocate Pratima Coutinho “gheraoed” the CoP and staged a protest on the site of encroachment. The Congress threatened to take matters in their own hand unless the CCP and CoP took immediate action on the issue. Congress leaders alleged that they found not only the casino’s ticketing counter but also toilets illegally constructed on the pavement.
Once the barricades are removed, the Corporation of City of Panaji (CCP) will step in and remove the reported encroachments. Currently, a customer registration counter and an office operated by Maharaja Casino along with an ATM machine are set up on the pavement.
Yesterday, the GSIDC commissioner, Srinet Kotwale reached the spot at Dayanand Bandodkar Road near the Old Secretariat and supervised the site inspection by his team. He found that the metal barricades that were put up along the road five years back while constructing the CoP jetty were being used by the Golden Globe Hotels to create a reception area for their offshore Casino Maharaja.
The barricades had not been removed from the area, where a terminal building by CoP, with an estimated cost of ₹18 Crores was to be constructed. The terminal building was planned for housing all shipping-related government offices including customs, coastal police and stakeholder units, etc.
“It will be clear now if any private party is involved in the encroachment of the footpath. If any encroachment is seen, a show-cause notice will be issued and action will be taken”, said CCP commissioner, Ajit Roy.
“As soon as we receive information that GSIDC has cleared the barricades, we will take action and clear the encroachment on the pavement”, he added.
Last week after receiving a query from Goa police, the CCP had clarified that no permission had been given by it for the alleged encroachments. The CCP then tasked a municipal engineer to survey the extent of the encroachment who is reported to have observed ‘gross violations’ along the footpath and the jetty. Soon Captain of Ports’ James Braganza also confirmed that they had not permitted the casino to enclose the pavement or modify it.