Panaji, June 14 (IANS) A month after Goa BJP president Vinay Tendulkar said that the party had urged the BJP-led state government to consider shutting down casinos, state Environment Minister Nilesh Cabral on Friday said that this step was "not practical" because of the employment they generate and ancillary businesses which the industry feeds off.
Addressing a press conference at the state Secretariat, he also said that the Goa State Pollution Control Board could conduct an audit of water management at offshore casinos.
"Shutting down casinos in Goa is not practical," Cabral said, adding that the industry generates employment for locals as well as a significant chunk of the workforce who have migrated to Goa.
A lot of ancillary business like hotels and restaurants in the state capital were dependent on the casino industry, he said.
"You have seen what happened when the mining industry was shut down and the hardships that people have had to face. The casino industry is linked to other businesses, which will be affected if they are shut down," Cabral said.
The Minister was responding to allegations made by state Congress president Girish Chodankar, who had claimed that the BJP was sharing a cozy relationship with the casino industry and was turning a blind eye to irregularities there at the cost of a revenue loss of Rs 5,000 crore to the state exchequer annually.
Ahead of the general elections, Tendulkar had said that the party had requested Chief Minister Pramod Sawant to consider banning the casinos in Goa, depending on "people's wishes".
Responding to yet another charge by the Congress state president about alleged pollution caused by offshore casinos parked off Panaji, Cabral said that state pollution control authorities would be conducting a audit of the water used and discharged by the six offshore casinos vessels.
"We will conduct a water audit soon. Right now, we have taken several steps to ensure that the river which the casinos are parked in is not polluted," he said.