Letter to Minister of land
In an open letter to the minister of land and housing, Mr. S. Obeegadoo, AKNL raises a series of issues.
Reminding that state lands belong to each and every citizen, AKNL seeks for a commitment from the minister that multi-stakeholder consultations takes place prior to any leasing for major projects on state lands. In the same collaborative thinking, that the local communities be involved in the reviewing of the National Development Strategy (NDS) due in 2020.
AKNL is also asking the minister to commit on the fact that the plans of the National Development Strategy (NDS) as well as the maps plotting the Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESA) be integrated into the ministry’s outline planning schemes.
It was also requested that all future land development in the coastal zone be pushed back inland, not only to ease access to coasts but to allow a more resilient outline planning. In that respect, AKNL suggests a close collaboration with a still-to-come citizen organisation similar to the French “Conservatoire du Littoral” (coastline conservators).
More public beaches are also necessary while regions with coastal ESAs would become coastal parks. Other recreational spots could also be ear-marked with a general target of making public two-thirds of the Mauritian coastline by 2050. In the meantime, consider declaring open to public access all along the coast, a band of 3 metres from the high water mark; the latter needing to be reviewed as well.
Last but not least, AKNL asks the minister to guarantee the democratic effectiveness of the appeal process at the Environment and Land Use Appeal Tribunal (ELAT), by first allowing more time for contesting EIAs and also ensure that there is no abuse of “Locus Standi“.
Unfortunately, since this letter has been sent, the authorities have been going right in the opposite direction. Via a “discrete” insertion in the Annex of the finance bill 2020, mentioning that the Environment Protection Act is amended so as to “…specify clearly who can appeal against the decision of the Ministry of Environment, Solid Waste Management and Climate Change to issue, or not, an EIA
License.” The amendment of the Environment Protection Act restricts access to the Environment and Land Use Appeal Tribunal (ELAT) only to those having previously objected to an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) or else to an “aggrieved” person… such a person being redefined as one who has seen one of his permits refused by authorities. End June 2020, a 4th letter had been sent in this respect to the minister of environment.