Sunday, September 26, 2010

Who’s really running the state?

Was in Mumbai last week and happened to read a startling news item. No it was not the little recording device which automatically started when you unfolded the newspaper and told you all about the wonders of the Volkswagon Vento. That ad was a hoot and got some paranoid Mumbaikars into such a tizzy they thought it was some kind of terrorist plot to blow up many households through the city. No; the startling news item was Peninsula Land the Piramal Group real estate company that has a joint venture holding with Delta Corp. The group has reportedly paid Rs 300 crore for an old mansion in Carmichael Road, Mumbai.

Who is Delta Corp and why should I waffle on about it? Delta Corp is the company that claims to effectively own 3 of the 6 offshore casino licenses offered by the Government of Goa to the highest bidder. They also speak of a casino management agreement operating the on-shore casino at Riviera de Goa that managed to get 5-star status cleared at state and central level.

Recently someone said that the casino operators are running the Goa government. If the Piramal group is running Delta Corp which owns half the casinos in Goa, then clearly, the Piramal group is running Goa. And if they can stroll in and reportedly pay Rs 300 crore cash on the barrel for a house in the most expensive area of Mumbai. They can buy anything and anyone.

Not only that, the Carmichael Road area is a heritage area and erecting high-rise buildings in the area is forbidden. Word has it that Peninsula Land is planning to put up a skyscraper on the property. Just goes to show where the real power is. The same power that can turn a 3 star hotel into a 5-star should not find it too difficult to build a modern skyscraper in a heritage area.

Which brings me to the casino boats clogging the once-beautiful Mandovi River ... They’re playing games at the High Court too. Now they say they are willing to withdraw their petition contesting the State Cabinet’s decision to shift them to the Aguada Bay. If they want to stay in the Mandovi River and place lives of other river users at risk, no one will be able to stop them. With that kind of purchasing power a state cabinet that is weak in Mathematics and ethics poses no problem at all.

Delta Corp owns Casino Royale, King’s Casino and Caravela. Caravela is to be replaced by a larger vessel M V Majesty. Delta plans to replace King’s Casino with a larger vessel too. Until they get a larger vessel to replace King’s Casino, they plan to move it to “the other river in Goa” since it can moor in shallow water and bring in people from South Goa or elsewhere in North Goa to gamble aboard the vessel. I’m not making this up, it’s all on the Delta Corp website: http://www.deltacorp.in/group.html Check it out for yourself.

Only the height of the Mandovi Bridges and the width between the pillars can put a spoke in their roulette wheel. If the bridges are too low for the casino boats to sail under or the width between the pillars too narrow to accommodate the width of the vessels, then the people of Ribandar and the local fishermen will not have to worry, or get their protest placards out.

A Ribandar resident said they have been requesting the government to give the village of Ribandar a football ground, Instead the Chief Minister has given the youth of Ribandar three casinos to gamble on.

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