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Offshore casino obstructing commuters

A casino operating for the last two months is indirectly causing inconvenience to commuters on the DB Road It is hardly two months that Maharaja offshore casino, anchored at Captain of Ports (CoP) Panjim jetty, is put in operation by M/s Golden Globe Hotels Pvt Ltd. It is the sixth offshore casino in River Mandovi.

But it is reportedly making news for all the wrong reasons. The spilling over of people, majority of who are non-Goans, on the footpath along the CoP jetty, for entry into the casino, has become a nuisance to local commuters travelling along the D B Road.

More so, the concerned authorities CoP, City Corporation and traffic police, are displaying complete ignorance to the growing chaos right under their nose. One can visit the site anytime post 6 pm and can witness the scene, which is barely few meters away from the Ferry point where traffic cops stand to challan the traffic violators.

After winning the initial battle in the High Court, the CoP had allotted its jetty to the Golden Globe Hotels Pvt Ltd to anchor their Casino vessel Maharaja in the River Mandovi. Half portion of the recently revamped jetty is occupied by the casino operator for their ticketing counter, which attracts lot of crowd in the evening. Huge queues can be seen right on the footpath, sometime even on the main road, blocking the traffic.

One of the prominent citizens and a former city councilor Patricia Pinto, pointing to the illegal encroachment, narrated an incident to HERALD. “Incidentally, I have witnessed a child (carried by her mother) being hit by a moving scooter at this same spot, since the mother had to walk on the road in the absence of a footpath. This happened on May 4. This is pathetic and more serious problems could occur since it is a road with fast moving traffic,” she reacted in her email.

“Citizen’s safety should not be compromised. I need not mention the High Court order on encroachments on footpaths as the CCP is well aware. This is not a ‘two-day’ event but a business venture by private entrepreneurs usurping the footpath meant for pedestrians, for maybe “years” and not just “days”, she stated further.

It may be recalled that in the year 2000, a division bench of Bombay High Court at Goa had issued directions to municipalities to take action against encroachments on public ways. The Court, in yet another petition related to encroachment of footpaths by food cart vendors, had asked CCP, way back in 2008, to ensure that the public ways are kept free for public.

Mayor Vithal Chopdekar said that he has already ordered inspection of the site. “That jetty belongs to CoP and it was constructed by Goa State Infrastructure Development Corporation (GSIDC). Latest by tomorrow (Tuesday) morning, the municipal engineer is asked to conduct the inspection and submit a report,” he said adding ‘necessary action will be followed thereafter’.

Chopdekar assured that the corporation will not allow any kind of encroachment of public ways.Captain James Braganza admitted that there is inconvenience caused to the public due to demarcation and barricading of the space by GSIDC. “It is not just the Maharaja casino that is given space at the jetty but also other cruises. We agree there is inconvenience to the public but that will be there till GSIDC completes the construction of terminal building,” he said. [H]

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