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Even as a group of local social activists moved the High Court of Bombay at Goa initiating contempt proceedings against concerned government bodies for not taking timely action against the encroachments by Maharaja Casino on the pavement by DB road in Panjim, Chief Minister of Goa, Manohar Parrikar has finally taken note of the matter and directed the Captain of Ports (CoP) to have the encroachments removed.
According to a statement issued by the CMO last Friday, “The encroachments on footpath by a casino operator are now being removed as per the directions of CM. CM had taken cognisance of the matter and had directed CoP to ensure the removal of the encroachments within 48 hours.”
Following this, in the presence of government officials, Golden Globe Hotels Pvt Ltd. (GGHPL) that runs the casino, initiated dismantling of the encroaching structures next to CoP jetty, that included a ticketing counter and reception area for the offshore casino.
CoP Deputy Director Octavio Rodrigues was among the officials directed by the CM to monitor the exercise. “The encroachments are being removed and the debris will also be cleared soon,” Rodriques said, speaking to the media.
The Maharaja Casino is the sixth offshore casino to be opened in Goa and was made operational by GGHPL on the CoP jetty in River Mandovi in April 2018. Since then, the Casino has been in the news for all the wrong reasons.
For locals, the primary bone of contention was the Casino’s ‘illegal’ encroaching structures and spilling of people – mostly non-Goan`s who lined up to enter the Casino onto the pavement disrupting local pedestrian movement.
A big portion of the encroaching structures have now been removed. Earlier on June 3, following a huge public outcry and protest staged by Goa Pradesh Congress on May 30, the Goa State Infrastructure Development Corporation (GSIDC) had removed the metal barricades put up in the area.
Meanwhile, a group of local activists from Panjim moved the High Court of Bombay at Goa seeking action against Corporation of City of Panaji (CCP) Commissioner, Ajit Roy and several other government authorities for their non-compliance and hence ‘contempt’ of previous court orders in the matte.
The petitioners, Kashinath Shetye and others drew attention of the Court on the encroachments by Maharaja Casino management and pointed out that the CoP, CCP, GSIDC and other government bodies involved were aware of the same court’s 2007 order where it had directed to ensure that all footpaths in municipal areas be kept open for free movement of the public.
They further stated that subsequently in April 2017, the High Court had directed the authorities concerned to comply with the earlier directions issued in 2007. Despite these two court orders, they claimed, no action was taken against the encroachments by Maharaja Casino.
The petitioners urged the Court that contempt proceedings be initiated against the respondents for contempt of court and that the latter be punished for ‘wilful disobedience of the orders of this court’.
The CCP, CoP and local police refused to comment on the petition since the matter was ‘sub-judice’ and stated that they will be submitting written replies in Court.