Life’s a beach

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A public beach deproclaimed for what? In February 2012, it was announced in the Government Gazette that part of the public beach in Trou-aux-Biches had been deproclaimed for the purposes of building a “food outlet”. Why, for crying out loud? What for? Aren’t there enough “food outlets” in Trouaux- Biches? We now need to deproclaim one of the few remaining public beaches so that someone can have the satisfaction of opening a restaurant on a beach?

This debate has quickly led – not unreasonably – to opponents of the project blaming the “cronies” for what is happening.

Things got worse when the Prime minister confirmed the perception that it was indeed a crony that got the cream when he came out with the lie that no one (least of all the journalists) protested when the Trou-aux-Biches Hotel swallowed our coastal road in the wake of its “development”. Navin Ramgoolam then, impossibly, tried to imply that people were protesting because they had it in for the “little people” – go figure – but that when “they” – the big bad people – destroy our country with their concrete, swallowing everything in their quest for a profit, no one had the guts to oppose them.

It’s rather perplexing that the press office of the PMO didn’t inform the Prime minister in 2007 and 2008 of what was said in the press about this “development”. Before he personally gave our coastal road to Beachcomber. Such dereliction of duty should be punished methinks…

Anyhow, the question that begs asking is the following; Are the Sungkurs really the ones to be blamed for the upcoming building of a restaurant on what was once a public beach? After a meeting yesterday with Subash Sungkur, the brother of the Pandit who is officially the beneficiary of the lease of the now deproclaimed beach – the story of which you will read in tomorrow’s paper –, it became clear that the Sungkurs are not concerned with the issue of the environmental impact of such a construction nor are they sensitive to the fact that people might feel aggrieved for no other reason that too much of what belongs to the public domain is being privatized. Their concern – and it seemed genuine enough – was that they want to build and operate a restaurant and why can’t they have their restaurant on the beach when such permission was being granted to other people on other public beaches?

Would the Sungkurs have had this sense of entitlement, this sense of being wronged by the criticisms if government hadn’t made it its policy to privatize everything public? If government hadn’t first let Beachcomber have its way – in the name of development and in utter disregard of public opinion –, then closed off the coastal road in Mon-Choisy so that yet more cronies could have the next best option to a beach hotel? If the Beach Authority hadn’t thought that its role was to exploit the beaches rather than protect them?

But then again – who gives a damn?

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