Saturday 26 March, the inhabitants of Baie du Cap sent a petition to Mr. Alain Wong, the new Minister of the Environment per interim. He is replacing Minister Raj Dayal, who has resigned to allow police enquiries into possible bribery charges around the award of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) permit.
In fact, LALIT’s West Region members, who are co-ordinating the petition, find it hard to imagine an EIA allowing the kind of destruction of a village that is planned for Baie du Cap. In 2009, an Integrated Resource Scheme (IRS) applied for an EIA, and in 2011 got one. Nothing was done. Then in January, 2016 a notice was put up announcing the project in Baie du Cap. It is called MonRoze (sometimes spelt “Monroze”, we notice) and takes up both former Bel Ombre sugar estate land and former State Land right on the Coast. The promoters are family of the St. Felix sugar estate bosses.
[There are, and will be, articles with photographs, uploaded on to our “documents” section.]
The petition, which we reproduce below in an English translation, is self-explanatory. It follows a demonstration by inhabitants on 28 February and three meetings with Lalit members from the West Region.
Dear Hon. Alain Wong,
We, inhabitants of Baie du Cap, write to you to put on record our opposition to the Integrated Resort Scheme (IRS) project just next to our homes, on land leased from the State, in Baie du Cap. We call on you, as new Minister of the Environment (par interim), to call a halt to the project. The promoter is going to destroy our village. We just do not know how he got an EIA. And in any case, we are sure he is not respecting basic EIA conditions anyway.
We oppose the Project in its totality on the basis of the following arguments:
1. The project represents an invasion of our village.
2. It cuts the village in two.
3. The promoter has used heavy-duty machinery to eat into our mountain; it is a violation of nature that offends our very memory of Baie du Cap.
4. He has also stolen the source; he has enclosed it with fencing and has put his pump to take the water.
5. He has built a wall that closes access to the second row of houses on the right as you look at the land from the road.
6. He has completely dismantled and removed the old hewn-rock bricks in a heritage building that stood just behind the police station.
7. He has even begun to dismantle the old police station, a heritage building dating from 1905, which forms part of our collective memory; he has removed the doors and windows.
8. Such a hotel Project with its 74 lots of villas and flats plus a shopping mall, all this right in the middle of our village, will ruin the atmosphere in our village, and in its wake bring all manner of social problems.
9. We know that the bosses in such projects prefer not to employ people who live nearby. This is a fact. We have seen it happen in other projects near Baie du Cap. They just make a weak pretence by giving a few contract jobs; in any case we do not want a life where we are condemned to domestic service; we want productive work. We want to create things.
10. The project represents a threat to our access to the sea, in the long term. We have seen through their plans. We have seen the way the road was deviated, for example away from the Pte aux Roches beach, effectively privatizing it.
11. In the medium term, the Project has the intention of making us (who live on the right side of it) abandon our homes.
12. In the long term, the Project has the intention of making all of us (on the left of it) abandon their homes if they are near the sea.
The Project, should it continue, will be a precedent for other promoters in other villages.
And now, we begin to realize why the Government has neglected our neighbourhood in such a cruel way.
The Government has done nothing to give us road access. Nor anything to prevent rocks coming down the mountain from behind our houses. Nor have any drains been put in to protect us from the flood-waters that rush down. It is as though the Government wants us to suffer. This way we will pack up and leave. This way the Government can let the private sector bosses get access to the sea in Baie du Cap.
So, we appeal to Government to:
1. Put an immediate halt to the project.
2. Find ways of forcing the two sugar estates that have closed down, and where so many people in Baie du Cap worked, that is to say Bel Ombre and St. Felix, to diversify their agriculture, take on workers, and assure them good conditions. They cannot just control Mauritian land as “real estate”, and have Government allowing them to fatten themselves on the increase in the value of their land. They have a responsibility to use the land to create work. Simultaneously, these two sugar estates must be made to set up factories for preservation of food products that are planted. This way further work will be created. So many textile factories in the south have sacked people and shut down.
3. Develop fishing outside the lagoon and repopulate the fish inside the lagoon, along the lines begun in Rodrigues. The sea no longer provides a livelihood for us, due to over-fishing.
4. Return us our source and river, build access roads for all of us, put in drains, build a social centre and set up a children’s playground. But not just these things.
Our demand is clear. Stop the Project! Force the land owners in Mauritius to create work in agriculture, while Government revives fishing, and link both these developments to factories that preserve food products – for our own food security and for export.
[Names, addresses and signatures follow.]
Witnessed by Kisna Kistnasamy, a representative of LALIT’s West Region, 153 Main Road, GRNW, Port Louis
firstname.lastname@example.org 208 5551 208 2132
To: Minister of the Environment p.i., Hon. Alain Wong,
Ken Lee Tower,
Corner Line Barracks and St. Georges St,
Port Louis. 24 Mars, 2016