PRAMOD RULES OUT MORE OFFSHORE CASINOS!

CRIPPLED: The casino industry has been crippled by the decision of the Central government to impose GST on the face value of the bets instead of the profits.

By Rajan Narayan

AND a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when the Goa Bench of the Bombay High Court set aside Vishwajit Rane’s decision to ban the tiger sanctuary in Mhadei. For a Saturday following the week when the private sector provided 858 jobs to the two lakh plus educated unemployed in Goa. For a Saturday following the week when the continuing rain has destroyed paddy fields. For a Saturday following the week when Chief Minister Pramod Sawant declared that no more offshore casino gambling licenses will be issued.
AND a few stray thoughts on when the Goa Bench of the Bombay High Court set aside Forests Minister Vishwajit Rane’s decision to ban a tiger sanctuary in Goa. Vishwajit Rane has persistently opposed a tiger sanctuary in Goa. The areas which will be covered by the tiger sanctuary include large parts of Sattari taluka but Vishwajit wants to convert the forest land into lucrative mining leases and settlement zones.
Vishwajit manipulated the Goa State Biodiversity Board to declare a ban on the tiger sanctuary which Goans and wildlifers and environmentalists were concerned about for with forests disappearing so will water resources align with vital wildlife. It has also been repeatedly pointed out that a tiger sanctuary will help Goa to prevent the diversion of the Mhadei river headwaters in Belgaum forested areas of Karnataka’s Western Ghats.
The Karnataka government has already started building dams at Kalasa-Banduri to divert water to the sugarcane-rich Malaprabha basin. Indeed, the demand for the diversion of the Mhadei river headwaters is to provide water for sugarcane which requires a lot of water. It is estimated that 200 sq mts of land would have to be reserved for any conservation work related to the formation of a tiger sanctuary. A major problem is that animals like the chital deer which comprise the main food of the tiger have disappeared from Sattari taluka and neighboring areas.
However, the High Court has made it clear that village settlements in forested areas are not a deterrent for declaring a wildlife sanctuary. These areas have been kept out of the market sanctuary areas and there is enough evidence from wildlife authorities and forest departments that there are tigers in the area which is a natural contiguous corridor for tiger movement from one state to another.
The high court has directed that the state must notify the Mhadei wildlife sanctuary as a tiger reserve within the next three months. Vishwajit Rane has condemned the High Court order and dubbed it dangerous, he will get the order cancelled by the Supreme Court. His contention is that the people of Sattari do not want a a tiger sanctuary because they will be affected by it. Although so far although tigers have been sighted in the sanctuary and Sattari forests they have caused no harm to the residents.
On the contrary, tiger presence protects the agricultural fields from being raided by wild boars. The main issue is the relocation and resettlement of some of the villages which may have to be recovered for the tiger reservation. There is no financial burden on this as the Centre finances resettlement of villages.
India and Goa are among the last places which offer sanctuary for the survival of tigers in the wild in the world. Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in favor of protecting the tiger which is at the apex of the food chain of life in the forests an he in fact went on safari in the Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan to look at tigers. Unfortunately, Modi was dressed as a forest officer and could not sight a single tiger.
Apparently, tigers do not share the love of BJP followers for Narendra Modi. According to forest department officials, there is a clear case for declaring Mhadei as a wildlife tiger sanctuary. It is unlikely that the Supreme Court will overturn the direction of the Goa high court bench to the government to declare Mhadei as a tiger reserve within three months.

EMPLOYMENT IN GOA
AND a few stray thoughts on the private sector providing 858 jobs to the two lakh plus estimated educated unemployed in Goa. Minister for Labor Atanasio Babush Monserrate has ruled out forcing the private sector to reserve jobs for locals. It is bad enough that there are very few industries in Goa. The ban on mining deprived over three lakh people employed in the mining industry of their jobs.
The offshore casinos offer jobs to over 4,000 employees both men and women. The only jobs available are in the hospitality industry. The government is only focused on creating jobs in the tourism industry. Unfortunately, a majority of the jobs in the tourism industry are monopolies by outsiders. The casinos for instance prefer to employ boys and girls from the north-east states in preference to locals for reasons best known to them. In Goa it is admitted that parents do not like their children working for casinos. Of the over two lakh locals who were unemployed in 2022 the private sector provided jobs only for 858 Goans.
Private sector establishments also prefer to hire migrants not only because they are willing to accept lower salaries but are willing to work hard without a fuss. They seem to be more reliable and disciplined than Goans. Goan locals have large families and several religious and social events to attend. Consequently, they tend to take leave frequently. Goans may be unemployed but they are not destitute. They belong to extended joint families and accommodation is rarely a problem or even funds for fuel for transportation.
Goa is the biggest money order economy with funds pouring in from Goans working abroad in the UK and the Gulf. It’s an easy going Goan society which prefers to wait for suitable jobs either in government or an opportunity to abroad for more lucrative salaries.

CONTINUING RAIN
AND a few stray thoughts on the continuing extreme rainfall which is destroying paddy fields. The rains may be a blessing but too much of it can cause enormous damage to farmers and their farms. As it is the continuous torrential rains over the last 20 days has sent large trees in various parts of Goa, particularly Panaji, crashing. These are ancient over a hundred years old trees which have become familiar landmarks in capital city Panaji.
The trees have come crashing down and sometimes damaged cars and residential building walls and colonies. Panaji has been flooding for the last 20 days, making the movement of both Individuals and the traffic difficult and sometimes impossible. Apart from this it may be repeated that a limited amount of rain is good for agriculture but a lot of rain spells out losses instead of gains.
In fact, a lot of Goans sow their paddy with the first rains and re-harvesting was also under way in several places. However, an excess of non-stop rain damaged the paddy fields and left them devastated. This is sad because the paddy harvesting festival is celebrated with great joy in Goa in some areas. There is a long history attached to the harvest festival. Way back in the 1500s the Portuguese who were trying to occupy Goa were chased out by the forces of Sultan Adil Shah. The Portuguese took refuge in their warships parked in the Mandovi river and it is recorded that the people of Taleigao provided food and other essentials to them, because the Portuguese could not return to Cochin because of the formation of a huge sand bar at the mouth of the river. At the beginning of the monsoon a sand bar forms near the Aguada fort and this makes it difficult or impossible for the movement in and out of the river Mandovi for the ships.

NO MORE CASINOS!
AND a last stray thought on Chief Minister Pramod Sawant declaring no more offshore gambling licenses for casinos. It would appear that Centre and State government policies against offshore gambling have taken a U-turn. It was the BJP government which promoted large scale offshore gambling in Goa. This was primarily because Jaydev Mody of Delta Corporation was very close to senior BJP leaders. Delta Corporation is the only public limited gambling company. It has casinos in Daman & Diu.
The Deltin Group has bought over a hundred acres of land at Mopa to set up a recreation park which would include casinos and hotels. Unfortunately, the casino industry has crashed with newly declared GST on them. Earlier the GST was imposed only on the net profit of casinos. The government has now changed the GST and has imposed GST on the face value of bets. This means that if you bet a Rs1,000 you have to pay 28% GST whether you win or lose. The shares of Delta Corporation have dropped after the change in GST. Confirming the anti-casino policies of the government Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has declared that no more offshore licenses will be issued.

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