Of the 58 acres leased to the Indian company Patel Engineering in Cassis, it happens that few things. Of Rs 16 billion of foreign direct investment to create a new town called Neotown, we have seen very little so far. Excavators, cranes and the frenzy of construction, it is for later. Yet the seed project since 2008 and the site has been secured since 2009. But, it could move soon.
Right now, some infrastructure projects are undertaken. According to the latest report submitted by the company to the Department of Housing and Lands, the internal road network began to be dug, underground pipes were placed in water, electricity and sewage and foundations for the lighting system have been placed, as drains. Last April, the telecommunications network had been completed up to 60%.
Recently, Patel Engineering has submitted preliminary plans to develop apartments on part of the site. The company plans to build three towers of 18 floors and eight two-story residential units. Technicians of the Department of Housing and Lands lean, right now, on these plans.
Shopping centers, the university campus, hotels, tourist attractions and recreational facilities are not for the immediate future. This is the sale of homes to help fund these constructions. Much of that investment will be injected into this project, which now bears the name of Les Salines Waterfront, does not come from abroad, as was alleged by the Indian promoter.
This is what one can infer information filed by the Department of Housing and Lands in last weekend in the National Assembly.
Although Les Salines Development Ltd., the local company created by the developer for this project was recorded in March 2008, it was not until March 2010 that the site development plan was submitted to the authorities. It will be approved seven months later. But it will be modified to accommodate the Harbour Bridge that the government wants to build to decongest Port Louis. It was not until November that the new version of the plan receives the green light by the Ministry.
Neotown been controversial from the beginning. For various reasons, especially the Opposition and the MMM, has led a crusade against it. Among the reasons cited, the unreliability of Patel Engineering to complete this project, allegations of corruption and the fact that the state has agreed to lease 58 acres to a foreign company in an area as delicate as the strategic and port.