Yesterday 16 March, there was a Hearing on the objection that LALIT and inhabitants of Baie du Cap raised against the so-called “development” on the site of the old historic building that will link the Integrated Resort Scheme known as “Monroze” to the sea. It was at the Savanne District Council hearing in Souillac.
Present for the objectors there was a unified panel following two separate objections. In all there were nine representatives of the inhabitants of Baie du Cap and three LALIT representatives.
The District Council President, Mr Kamalsaw Gajadur, chaired the meeting in the full democratic tradition of Mauritius local administration, informing everyone on both sides of their right to free expression. Those present were also informed of the right to appeal to the Environment Land Use Tribunal, within 21 days of the notification of the decision of the District Council.
The promoter was represented by Frederic Leon Robert, husband of Cecilia Bouigue Robert who often runs the pre-project demarches, was invited to outline his project. It was very difficult to hear what he was saying, but he spoke of his entire project, the MonRoze IRS as well as the bit of State Land the present hearing was about. He put a lot of emphasis on two or three points: He is a Mauritian, and from the South, and from Baie du Cap. He is doing all this for the benefit of the people of Baie du Cap, and it is the first project in Mauritian history to have such a big “social” element. He has the signatures of 800 people in favour of his project. He is not a man used to being challenged. He did not invite any of the three people in his team to speak.
Preliminary Questions tabled by objectors
The objectors, as previously agreed amongst all of them from both petitions, delegated two spokespeople, with others free to add points afterwards, which three or four did:
LALIT member Ragini Kistnasamy tabled background questions. The District Council explained that they merely listen to the two sides, and do not reply to questions. So they were tabled for the purposes of any future appeal. Her argumentation was cogent. Here is a translation into English of what she said, which has been submitted to the District Council, together with the 12 actual objections:
1. State Land: When did the Company get a lease for this State Land? Could we see the lease? Were there conditions attached? In the whose name, or what company’s name was it made?
2. Who put up the sign “Private Property”? It is not private property, but State Land.
3. What happened to the door and window of the so-called “private property”?
4. Did the applicants apply earlier? In 2014? When did the Applicants for Land and Building Permit first apply? For what did they apply?
5. What is the relationship of this application and the Monroze IRS?
6. What is the relationship between this company Bouigue Ltd and St. Felix Sugar Estate, or its directors?
7. When did the Monroze project apply for an EIA? When did it get it? License 9 June 2011. Six years have passed. When did the EIA expire?
Ragini Kistnasamy then made some preliminary statement.
Preliminary Statements made by the objectors
We note that since the application for an IRS EIA in 2009, and maybe earlier, the village of Baie du Cap has been intentionally and wilfully abandoned by the State.
It has no government schools, pre-schools, crèches or secondary schools. It has no proper village hall or sub-hall. It has no banking facilities – not even an ATM. It has no filling station, despite many fishermen who need the fuel sold at filling stations, although it did have one. She said carrying gasoline in private cars or taxis is illegal, and yet there is no filling station. The promised road behind and on the side of the land in question has never materialized, and is now being outright refused. Mr Ari Seerputty will give details on this point as our second submission, she said. Dangerous rocks are intentionally and wilfully left there behind peoples’ houses, while a huge gash has been wantonly dug into the hillside by these so-called “developers”. There are no new drains, while Government has spent millions on drains nation-wide. There are no sporting facilities, not even a terrain petanque.
We get the whiff of a conspiracy to abandon the village, to force villagers into a position of dependency on the Real Estate developers, whose ultimate aim may well be to get access to the sea for the IRS by getting rid of as many of the villagers as they can. Some people have already been made to leave.
We have two levels of objection: Local en National-Level: the first are being submitted here, and the second are to be submitted to the relevant Ministries, and to the Prime Minister.
12 Local Objections
In addition to objecting to state land being used for commercial purposes, we have 12 objections, which were already stated in a petition to the Minister of the Environment.
Our national level objections are that this kind of speculative real estate investment is destructive and dangerous, and a threat to the country. It is a form of re-colonization, she said.
Inform of Alternative Proposition to be made to Central Government
We inform the District Council that we will be producing an alternative project for the site.
Here is the Kreol version of the 12 objections as outlined in the Hearing. The hearing, incidentally, took place in Kreol, as nearly all such hearings do.
Formal Objection to “land and building permit”
(in the Bouigue IRS, Baie du Cap)
“Dan nu let obzeksyon, nu fini obzekte lefet ki pe servi State Land pu bezwin komersyal. Isi ena nu 12 obzeksyon ki ti deza dan enn petisyon siyne par 17 dimunn preske exakteman enn an desela (24 Mars 2016.)
“1. Proze la, e sa devlopman lor State Land, reprezant enn invazyon nu vilaz.
“2. Proze la, avek so devlopman lor State Land, kup nu vilaz an de.
“3. Promoter la fini servi gro masinn pu ronz e dekup nu flan-montayn la net lor sa sayt la; li finn deza fer enn vyolasyon lanatir dan enn fason ki ofans nu memwar Baie du Cap.
“4. Li fini kareman kokin lasurs; li finn met difil metalik otur lasurs la, met so laponp.
“5. Li finn mont enn miray ki ferm akse a lakaz 2yem ranze (kote drwat Proze la kan get later).
“6. Li finn konpletman detrir, e anlev ansyin brik taye, depi enn batiman patrimwann, seki ti tom zis par deryer ansyin istasyon lapolis.
“7. Li finn kumans demantel istasyon lapolis, enn patrimwann ki dat depi 1905, e ki form parti nu memwar kolektif; li finn anlev laport ek lafnet.
“8. Si zame enn tel Proze Lotel avek so 74 lo vila ek apartman, plis enn shoping morl, tusala vinn tom omilye nu vilaz, li pu gat latmosfer nu vilaz; dan so siyaz li pu amenn tu kalite problem sosyal grav.
“9. Nu obzekte akoz Proze la pena bi pu kree anplwa. Nu kone patron sa zar Proze la prefer pa donn travay dimunn ki res pre. Sa li enn fe. Nu finn truv li dan lezot Proze prekot Baie du Cap. Zot pu zis fer sanblan, donn enn-de kontra, pu kuyonn nu; detutfason nu pa ule kondane a enn lavi kot nu ek tu nu zanfan fer travay “intandans”, setadir seki lontan ti apel “servant” pu dimunn ris; nu ule travay prodiktif, nu ule kree kiksoz.
“10. Proze reprezant enn menas a nu akse a lamer, a lonterm; nu fini truv zot vize. Nu finn truve kimanyer finn buz sime laplaz net depi Pte aux Roches.
“11. A mwayenn term, Proze la ena lintansyon fer nu kit nu lakaz, ale (dimunn ki res adrwat proze la). Ena fami fini expilse deza.
“12. A lonterm, Proze la ena lintansyon fer tu dimunn ki lor bor lamer kit lakaz ale (dimunn ki res agos proze la).
“Sa proze la, si zame li kontinye, li pu enn presedan pu lezot promoter dan lezot vilaz.”
Ari Seerputty argues for Access Road
After Ragini Kistnasamy, Baie du Cap inhabitant Ari Seerputty gave a stunning plea for the Road that is necessary so that 15 families do not have to climb 75 steps up to the houses. What was stunning about it was that he submitted a full written dossier, and spoke to it, outlining that, when Baie du Cap had been part of the Black River District Council, he had personally been involved in months and months of technical meetings that ended up tracing the exact route the road would take. He also took up the “preliminary points” 4 and 5 above, saying that the notice put up in the identical place to the new 2017 one, in 2016 referred to the MonRoze project, while the new one refers to the bit of State Land. He also said the earlier one had a false date “2014” on it. He and other members of the delegation expressed concern that this kind of complete lack of empathy with 15 families who do not have road access to their homes which are on state land leases, reflects on the project in general.
Other members also gave photographs to the District Council showing the theft of the water source, the offending wall, and the huge gash in the road that now causes mud-floods right across the Coast Road.
Lindsey Collen concluded by pointing out the nation-wide, and even world-wide, phenomenon of a new kind of colonization whereby rich people from abroad come and settled in neighbourhoods that they fence off with armed guards, and keep us out of. Meanwhile they, by sharp contrast, can freely roam around our neighbourhoods. There are projects for IRS, Smart Cities and other Gated Communities all over Mauritius now. She submitted a map showing the degree of penetration of this new kind of colonization. She also said that LALIT is calling for the repeal of all the permit concessions and tax concessions that are given for these projects by the central government, whether concerning conversion of type of land use permitted, parcelling of land, selling of land to foreigners just because they’ve got money, and so on.
She said LALIT would forward to the District Council the proposal we are sending the central government for a kind of genuinely integrated village, instead of this kind of IRS-type scheme.
The District Council President said he would like to do a site visit as soon as possible.
After the Hearing, everyone who had submitted objections got together for a debriefing. We took a decision about how to proceed.