The Goa Youth Congress have demanded that both offshore and onshore casinos remain shut until the government finds a ‘sustainable solution’ to the ongoing Mandovi inter-state water dispute between Karnataka and Goa.
The demand to stop the reopening of Goa’s casino comes two day after Chief Minister Pramod Sawant announced that the casino industry in the state could reopen with 50 percent capacity from November 1, an effort by the state to revive tourism which was affected by the pandemic.
Youth Congress president Varad Mardolkar explained that the water levels of the Mandovi river, where six of the states offshore casinos are parked, may decrease on account of the alleged diversion carried out by the Karnataka government via the Kalasa-Banduri canal, and cause further degradation of the river. These demands were submitted to the Goa Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari.
Currently, Goa has six operational offshore casinos that are anchored in the Mandovi river and ten onshore casinos. The reopening of both these casinos, would cause further environmental degradation of the Mandovi river, alleged Mardolkar.
He further added that, “Through the Kalasa-Banduri projects, the Karnataka government has diverted the Mandovi river water excessively and completely changed the natural flow of the Mandovi river from its original basin. If casinos are allowed to restart in the Mandovi river this year, pollution will increase tremendously, and it will be of serious nature due to low-levels in the Mandovi river this year. The increase in pollution will adversely affect ecology and marine life,”
Goa and Karnataka are battling out a two-decade-long dispute over the sharing of the Mahadayi (Mandovi) river in the Supreme Court after both parties expressed reservations about the award by the Mahadayi Water Dispute Tribunal in 2018. Maharashtra is the third state which is a part of the dispute, as the river traverses through a small portion of Maharashtra. Goa has also opposed the diversion of water from the Mahadayi river basin through the Kalasa-Banduri project claiming it would cause “ecological devastation” in Goa.
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