PM says ‘no need to abuse investors’
Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves is urging concerned Vincentians to remain calm and to stop abusing investors who have submitted a proposal for the removal of a section of coral reef at Indian Bay.
Objections have increased since the proposal was submitted by proprietors of the La Vue Boutique Hotel for the removal of the section of reef investors say is dead, and the placement of an artificial reef and ‘beach nourishment’ using imported sand at a section of the beach in Villa.
“All I ask persons is to just be calm. We have a planning law, with an independent planning board, Physical Planning board which says first of all, if you want to build a jetty where you want to increase the size of the beach and even if it’s dead coral, you have to get permission,” Gonsalves said on July 16 while speaking at an event in Barrouallie.
“They say is dead coral. I haven’t gone there; I haven’t received any report to tell me anything…I have gotten reports but I haven’t gotten them from planning because Physical Planning will do their work in accordance with the law.”
A petition started by the St Vincent and the Grenadines Environment Fund “Opposing the removal of the reef at Indian Bay” has garnered more than 4900 of 5000 signatures on change.org so far.
And concerned citizens and non-governmental organisations have taken a considerable amount of interest in the matter, expressing in detail via social and traditional media why they oppose the application made to the Physical Planning and Development Board by Raffique Dunbar, on behalf of Syre Holdings Inc – the owners of La Vue Boutique Hotel.
The Prime Minister said however, that while he understands the concern, there is no need to verbally abuse and curse investors as there are processes in place that are at work.
Gonsalves further questioned whether anyone seriously thought that “this government will have an interest in the coral being destroyed” when they have put several things in place over the years to protect against the destruction of coral, particularly in the Tobago Cays – a protected area in the Grenadines.
“And I can’t believe that a responsible investor would want to destroy a coral either. Now the planning authorities have all kinds of grounds on which they can say they not giving permission, including that specific environmental ground, but they have others in relation to use and all the rest of it,” he said.
Gonsalves further noted that St Vincent and the Grenadines is now home for several persons from North America and Europe, who are “very sensitive to the environment”.
“…and I appreciate that but when they writing and saying well, they are going to write the Miami Herald and they are going to write New York Times about this application; what they think? They think that we are some kind of a back of the woods country that we don’t have laws?” the Prime Minister questioned.
He continued: “I want to ask them; do they write to the Miami Herald and do they write to the New York Times about global warming and to tell their governments in Europe and in North America that they must do something about global warming?”
Gonsalves added that global warming is a fundamental cause affecting the coral, as well as persons indiscriminately channelling their grey water into the sea.
He said writing to the international media houses will have no effect on how the Planning Board conducts its affairs and the Prime Minister again asked that persons allow the process to run its course.