Heeding protests by the city’s conservation activists, the Panaji Mayor has ordered the removal of casino advertising paraphernalia from signages depicting the heritage structures in Panaji.

Speaking to IANS on Wednesday, Panaji Mayor Surendra Furtado said the advertising on the heritage siganges was not legal and a probe would be conducted into the matter.

“I have given orders to take down all the advertising material. The ads were put up without permission. The Corporation is not getting any revenue from them,” Furtado said, after protests from heritage activists.

A leading heritage expert Prajal Sakhardande, whose complaint to the mayor eventually led to the pulling out of advertising signages, said that the state capital’s rich heritage cannot be capitalised on by the casino industry operating in Goa.

“History and heritage cannot be allowed to be defiled (by casino signages),” says Sakhardande, who is also a spokesperson for the Goa Heritage Action Group.

In one case, Sakhardande said, casino signages were also put up on a heritage sign, with information about a historic mosque in the state.

“These pieces of history which we had put up in Panaji are now defiled by the advertisement billboards of casinos,” he said.

There are five offshore casinos and nearly half a dozen onshore casinos operating from five-star resorts along the state’s coastline.

Banning of casinos in the state was one of the major poll issues in the recently concluded February 4 state assembly elections, with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) calling for a total ban and the Congress demanding a partial ban on the industry.