[Vidéo] Aret Kokin Nu Laplaz alerte sur l'écosystème de la plage de Beau Champ à Bel Ombre

Rédigé par E. Moris le Dimanche 12 Septembre 2021

Before it is too late for the precious ecosystem of Beau Champ beach in Bel Ombre...

In the middle of a series of beach hotels in Bel Ombre, there is this small beach named Beau Champ, still very authentic. The wetlands, the dune system with its vegetation help in protecting the healthy lagoon in front, even though there is terrestrial pollution running down, this precious coastal ecosystem act as a natural barrier and filters the pollutants. 

Even the tourists who stay in the neighbouring hotels, enjoy discovering this side of Bel Ombre, since the landscape is not a built up one, not an artificial setting.

But now if you have a look at the environment around these existing beach hotels of Bel Ombre, where in the past, buildings have been erected on and around marshlands, too near the sea, the destructive impacts are very much real today. But are we going to keep on repeating over and over again the same mistakes? Indeed, the lagoons in front of these hotels are dead, beach erosion is dramatic in this region. Beau Champ is like a gem, rare and precious.

Unfortunately, Beau Champ as well is threatened since a hotel project has been allowed there, right on the dune system. What will be the impacts on the wetlands, the dune system and the vegetation, what will happen to the lagoon and to this whole interconnected ecosystem?

These questions have not been addressed by the developer. Moreover, there is not only a hotel project on this site since the developer is also building 42 Villas at the back, without having to go through the process of an Environmental Impact Assessment even though there are wetlands and natural drains around. The developer has not assessed the impacts of his projects on this whole ecosystem. 

According to scientific studies that AKNL has ordered (Geomorphologists, marine specialist, land surveyor) this hotel project right on the dune system whereby there are also 4 wetland zones connected to that dune system and vegetation. These are protecting effectively the lagoon against direct pollution and thus protecting the coral garden. Corals which are our first buffer against rising sea levels and help break down the intensity of heavy waves. 

And of course, how not to mention the responsibility of Minister Ramano who is also in charge of Climate Change. We have alerted him so many times regarding this particular case, and the fact that the EIA of the developer was far from “fair and true”, we provided him scientific studies, asked for a site visit, a meeting. But he never cared to reply. Not once.Is this acceptable when we are fully aware how vulnerable we are in the face of climate change, sea level rise, to still allow the destruction of natural barriers that protect us?

We are not responsible for global warming. However, we need to prepare, we need to get ready because the sea is rising very rapidly in our region. Minister Ramano rightly pointed out in a foreign Media that “Projections for Mauritius are bleak”. He even added that: “In some places, erosion has reduced beach width by up to 20 metres over the past decade” and that in the coming 50 years we will be losing half of our beaches to the point of supporting on visitors.

Last but not least, the sixth IPCC report made it clear that we will not stop rising sea levels even though we are able to curb global warming and the impacts. Scientists are adamant: the sea levels will continue to rise. In the best-case scenario, which is still alarming for a small island like ours, the sea level will rise up to 30 cm, 50 cm… But that could also be 2m by 2100. We need to wake up to this reality and get ready!

Can the licensing authorities affirm that climate change was taken into account before giving all the necessary permits to the developers for their beach hotel project?

In fact, Minister Ramano has defended in Parliament a Climate Change Bill that was adopted. He explained how it was crucial for Mauritius to become more resilient to climate change impacts. Hence the Climate Change act amended several laws: The Planning and Development Act and the Tourism Authority Act were both amended to state that from now on “development to take into account climate change”.  The Pas Géométriques Act was also amended stating that a leaseholder shall not alter or change any marsh or sand dunes.

The Local Government Act as well was amended and it is stated now that before giving a building and land use permit the Climate Change Act must be abided by. The developer made a Building and Land Use application to the District Council of Savanne. In May, we attended a Hearing where we exposed our objections as citizens and stewards of the environment, whereby we highlighted that the District Council needs to seek advice from the Ministry of Environment to know what it means to “take into account Climate Change”.

We also asked them to seek advice with the Ministry of Housing and land Use and other relevant Ministries as well to confirm if this hotel project was not planned right on the dune system? Make sure that the interconnection between the wetlands, vegetation, and sand dune system won’t be affected, disrupted? And finally, what will happen to the lagoon in front?

None of this was done and the developer got the building permit on the very same day we went to the Hearing. Wouldn’t it have been fair that the District Council sought advice as to how to implement and respect the Climate Change Act before proceeding?

What natural protection do we have here in Mauritius against the impacts of heavy waves, sea level rise? Coral barriers of course. But also, our remaining sand dune systems and coastal wetlands that act as natural buffers to absorb the impact of floodings, surges and devastating waves that will unfurl on our coasts. All these barriers are present on the site of the hotel project, still functioning. Destroying one of them will affect the others inevitably. 

If we do not act now, all this will be lost. Laws are adopted one after the other. But when it comes to implementation…that is a story of failures.

Crédit vidéo : Aret Kokin Nu Laplaz

Dimanche 12 Septembre 2021

1.Posté par Zeiyad yadallee le 12/09/2021 10:27
Really sad to hear of this still happeningin Mauritius, its like a never ending nightmare. These developers are powerful, unfortunately in Mauritius if you're rich enough and have connections, things rule in your favour, there's a lot of back handed deals and the government are pretty useless. The way forward is to reach out to international authorities and public awareness.

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