Entertainment can be new industry

Vishnu Surya WaghPANAJI: With the state seeking alternatives to the mining industry, Entertainment Society of Goa vice chairman Vishnu Surya Wagh has said the entertainment sector can be a viable revenue generating alternative to Goa's mining industry which has come to a halt following the Supreme Court-imposed ban.

"We believe that the entertainment sector has the full capacity to make up for mining revenue," the vice chairman said.

Citing examples of Ekta Kapoor's Balaji telefilms and the Ramoji film city in Hyderabad as profitable entertainment ventures, Wagh said the entertainment sector is the industry of today and tomorrow. "What is there in Mumbai? Is there mining in Mumbai? Is there tourism?" questioned Wagh, emphasizing his point.

"We have never thought in this direction (seeing entertainment as a revenue generating industry)," he said. Wagh said that every year, while at least 20 full length films are shot in Goa, around 30 NRI weddings each costing Rs 30 crore, as well as a number of fashion shows are held in the state.

"What revenue does the state get? Nothing," said Wagh, while adding, "Imagine if we charged even 5% tax on these, how much revenue would the state earn?"

He sought bringing of such events and other like advertisement shoots under the tax net.

"We will have a separate act for this. It can be the Goa State Entertainment and Events Act," he said.

Though plans for such an act are under consideration, Wagh said the government has to think over it and it will take a while to implement this. "People think entertainment means film city," he said, when asked how he planned to develop an entertainment industry in the state. "We need a broad vision. Anything that entertains can be a part of the industry," he observed.

Wagh, said that while the state witnesses a number of film shoots each year, most of the camera and other equipment has to be bought from outside as it is unavailable in the state.

"My aim is that any expenditure henceforth should be investment for the future entertainment industry," stated Wagh, who is also the chairman of Kala Academy, Campal, Panaji.

He said he had plans for two film cities in the state, one in North Goa and South Goa, each.

"Goa has that scenic splendour and variety (for a film city)," Wagh said.

He felt that it would take a minimum of two years for the film cities to materialize.

"I have got the plans ready in my mind and only need the government's nod," Wagh added. The St Andre MLA also said there are plans for two entertainment theme parks in the state.

"People come to Goa for a holiday with their families. There needs to be some family entertainment facilities," he pointed out.

He felt such entertainment parks which are usually found in tourist destinations such as Malaysia and Singapore, will generate employment for thousands as well as earn revenue for the state.

"Goa is much bigger than Malaysia or Singapore. We need to develop Goa as an entertainment destination and this can be easily done," the St Andre MLA told STOI.[TOI]