The shadow of a new airport looms over the site

2 weeks, 5 days ago - November 14, 2023
The shadow of a new airport looms ..
860 acres equivalent to the size of a small village are of interest to the French real estate group, PR Capital. The latter is the fourth claimant for these lands judged by opponents of this project to have inestimable ecological value. Back in time.

As surprising as it may seem, this immense land or rather forest belongs to the banks BCPE and ABSA (formerly Barclays), the first holding the largest share. These banks got their hands on it when the previous owners, the Frenchman Jean-Marie Bain and his Mauritian partner Cassiopée (Mauritius) Ltée, abandoned their IRS project in 2010 because they were unable to raise the necessary funds for construction. villas, shops and other infrastructure. The two banks then placed Roches-Noires Resorts and Residence Ltd of Jean-Marie Bain under judicial administration (a sort of Receivership). This consortium itself took over in 2007 the project abandoned in 2006 by the South African Elan Group.

And after the abandonment of the project by Roches Noires Resorts and Residence Ltd, the Receiver Manager received an offer from the Chinese group YIHE in 2012 which promised, like PR Capital, to invest Rs 44 billion while preserving sensitive areas. His project ? luxury hotel, leisure center, shopping center, business zone, a residential area – probably villas – and the inevitable conference center. The leaders will even arrive in Mauritius in April 2015 to meet the new government in order to resolve a thorny problem: in 2013, Civil Aviation vetoed the project because, it said, the land was reserved for the second airport project, which was thus reborn from his ashes.

Vishnu Lutchmeenaraidoo, Minister of Finance at the time, announced in Parliament on April 10, 2015, in response to a PNQ from Paul Bérenger, that the new government has decided that there will be no second airport. And thus, the “pretext” used by the Labor government fell through and “we are on the point of finally kicking off the project”. But once again, the project will be abandoned, the promoter citing financing problems. This, although, according to one source, after a late market study, YIHE actually concluded that the project was not viable. The advance – the amount of which is unknown – that she had paid to the creditor banks was non-refundable.

And now there is this fourth official suitor, PR Capital, which presents almost the same real estate project as that of its predecessors worth around Rs 41 billion. The spokesperson for PR Capital, Nicolas de Chalain, confirms to us that the land will be purchased for smaller projects and subdivisions if PR Capital does not obtain the necessary authorizations to create the Smart City, including the famous EIA certificate. He reiterates that development under the Smart City Scheme, however, allows for “better land use and planning” and a real project for the preservation of the environment.

However, opponents of this project wonder how the developer could divide up and sell land that does not yet belong to him. Because “PR capital has just entered into a Sales Compromise with the two banks”. De Chalain responds: “It is true that the land has not yet been paid in full and that the sales agreement made with the two banks is based on a Smart City project. In the absence of a permit, the developers will still buy the land.” Nicolas de Chalain did not want to tell us how much deposit he paid but that he is convinced that if the project is abandoned, the banks will return it to him.

Airport project returning

However, another very big bone is looming on the horizon: the airport project has just been re-activated. However, Vishnu Lutchmeenaraidoo had, on April 10, 2015, promised that there will be no second airport. According to a document that we were able to consult, it is written in black and white that in view of the Northern Airport construction project, the Smart City will have to leave 20 meters of buffer zone between it and the airport project site on the part convergent. According to Osman Mahomed, who is familiar with this project, “if there will eventually be an airport nearby, I wonder who will want to buy a villa or an apartment in the Smart City!” While wondering whether the construction of a second airport is economically and ecologically desirable for the country. When requested, the Director of Civil Aviation did not come back to L'express.

It must be remembered that in 2013, Civil Aviation did not allow the developer YIHE to create its Smart City while PR Capital will be able to do so provided the buffer zone is respected. Will PR Capital move forward knowing that an airport could be built right next door? Nicolas de Chalain believes that this will not pose a problem. “How many people live near airports in the world! If this were the case, people who live in Roches-Noires and who seek peace and quiet would have to relocate.” But aren’t Smart City customers looking for peace and quiet? we asked him. “Not necessarily, several land developments are taking place around airports in France – notably Marseille, Toulouse, Nice – and are equipped with a protection plan against noise disturbances and insulation techniques and which consist of determining which geographical spaces are affected by the nuisance caused, depending on the proximity of their habitat to the airport.”

He also informs L'express that the financing will in principle come from foreign investors but that Mauritians will also be able to invest in the project. And the customers? “ We are open to foreign and Mauritian customers. And the sales will be made by VEFA and the majority will be self-financing. Local banks could also be approached, according to him.

Declaration of Rezistans ek Alternative

«Le patrimoine naturel de Roches Noires constitue les boucliers naturels qui nous protègent des désastres du dérèglement écologique. Dans le contexte de la 6ème extinction de masse de la biodiversité et du franchissement des limites d’équilibres des écosystèmes planétaires, tous deux à cause d’un modèle économique mondialisé destructeur, nous devons changer de paradigme économique et dans ce cas arrêter la monoculture du développement foncier.

Rezistans ek Alternativ propose que les habitants de Roches Noires et des régions avoisinantes (allant de Rivière du Rempart à Flacq) soient décideurs et bénéficiaires d’un nouveau modèle économique d'intérêt public en harmonie avec ce trésor vivant.

L’Etat Mauricien doit procéder à la “compulsory acquisition” de ces terres, sous la section 8.1(a) de notre Constitution “to promote the public benefit or the social and economic well-being of the people of Mauritius” [1], afin de placer ce site dans le domaine public, le déclarer inconstructible, imprescriptible, insaisissable et inaliénable. Cela posera la fondation pour permettre la transition vers de nouveaux modèles économiques harmonieux avec la Nature.

La pandémie de la COVID-19 et la mise en mouvement populaire pour contrer la marée noire du MV Wakashio nous apprennent que le moment est venu pour nos concitoyens de s'émanciper hors du modèle désormais obsolète du CSR et des fondations des conglomérats.

Les groupes bancaires BPCE INTERNATIONAL ET OUTRE MER et ABSA BANK (MAURITIUS) LIMITED qui possèdent les titres de propriétés de ce site, suite à la mise en liquidation de la société ROCHES NOIRES RESORTS & RESIDENCE LTD en septembre 2014 portent ici une lourde responsabilité quand à leur devoir de vigilance face à un écocide en préparation.»

David Sauvage Rezistans ek Alternativ

[1] Article 8. Protection from deprivation of property (1) No property of any description shall be compulsorily taken possession of, and no interest in or right over poverty of any description shall be compulsorily acquired, except where - (a) the taking of possession or acquisition is necessary or expedient in the interests of the defence, public safety, public morality, public health, town and country planning, the development or utilisation of any property in such a manner as to promote the public benefit or the social and economic well-being of the people of Mauritius; and

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