Published from Mumbai, Delhi & Bhopal

Focus on health infra, not casinos: Goa opposition leader

Panaji, The Goa government will better serve the people by bringing back on track the state’s health infrastructure rather than opening casinos or going ahead with an electronic dance music (EDM) festival, said Kiran Kandolkar, the newly-appointed working President of the Goa Forward Party (GFP), on Monday.

Goa’s Ports Minister Michael Lobo has also said that the EDM festival, which has attracted thousands of tourists in past editions, should not be held in the state during the pandemic.

Addressing a press conference here, Kandolkar said that opening of casinos and organising EDM festival in the state would add to the Covid-19 cases, which crossed 43,000 in the country’s smallest state on Sunday.

“The government should not rush into certain things. We know casinos bring revenues to Goa, but the pandemic is still active here. India has reported less than 1 per cent cases compared to the country’s population, but in Goa we have crossed 3 per cent with a population of 1.5 million,” Kandolkar added.

Casinos in Goa reopened on November 1 and have been instructed to maintain 50 per cent occupancy following both the Central as well as the state government’s standard operating procedures (SOPs).

The state has six offshore and several other onshore casinos operating from five-star resorts.

The organisers of the Sunburn EDM festival, Percept Live, have announced the 14th edition of the event in Goa from December 27 to 29. The organisers have said that all SOPs will be in place for the event to be held with a limited capacity.

Former BJP MLA Kandolkar, who joined the GFP in October this year, said improving the health infrastructure in the state must be a priority.

“The Goa government should concentrate on improving health facilities here. Six hundred persons have died due to Covid-19 among the 1.5 million population. Many of them were young which is unfortunate,” Kandolkar said.

“The UK has started a second phase of lockdown anticipating a second wave but this government is playing with the health of the people of Goa,” Kandolkar added.

Meanwhile, Lobo on Monday said that the organisers of the EDM event have only been given conditional permission and also added that it would be best if the event is postponed due to the pandemic.

“There is no in principle approval yet. There is only conditional approval from the government, which says that the event can be held only if there are no Covid-19 cases in Goa at that particular time,” Lobo said.

“If Covid-19 cases rise in December, the event will not happen or it will have to be postponed,” Lobo also said.

Hindi Website