|Letter: The Harvey Vale Marina project is an environmental disaster|
|Published on July 3, 2014||
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The Keith Mitchell NNP administration is doing everything within its power to give legitimacy to the Harvey Vale Marina project which started in 2002 and should have been completed seven years ago.
In 2002 the Keith Mitchell NNP government gave its approval for this very unpopular project despite extensive criticisms from both local and foreign environmentalist .
The project is in the centre of the biggest mangrove swamp lands in Carriacou at the heart of the Oyster bed and lagoon, which plays an essential role in the ecosystem and the coastal marine life.. The area is also used as a shelter for seamen during the hurricane season.
From 2002 the developers have had major problems with the multi-million dollar project The main issue confronting the developers are the impact of such a project on the environment and livelihood of the local population.
The project came to an abrupt halt in 2008 when the NDC was elected into office. Speculations were at the time that the developers were playing politics since the project was approved by the NNP. The NDC administration was a major signatory to AOSIS and so was very conscious of the issue of climate change and the environmental impact of small developing states. This message was conveyed to the developer if not in words but in deeds when the NDC administration established the Cariacou Marine Park. This park included the area in which the marina project is located.
Under the NDC administration laws were passed to end sand mining. This was heavily criticised by the then opposition, NNP. Grenada received high praise for its leadership role on climate change. Major progress was made in terms of the preservation of the environment and sustainable growth and development. The green environment was promoted by the NDC. Grenada received substantial financial assistance from foreign donors as a result.
The NNP party is not as friendly to the environment in a serious way. The party is prepared to sacrifice the preservation of the environment for money and so called development.
Following the February 2013 elections, the new NNP administration under the same Dr Mitchell approve a further seven acres of natural mangrove swamp lands for the expansion of the project. The NNP disregarded whatever negative impact the project will have on the marine protected area and gave its overwhelming support .
Allegations are that the developers are a major supporter of the NNP and have contributed thousands of dollars to the party, especially campaign financing. It is alleged that the project is a 'sweetheart' deal between the developers and the NNP. The willingness of the developer to halt the project for four and a half years suggests that this allegation may be true. Once the NNP was re-elected into office the project began immediately with the new NNP administration immediately approving a further seven acres of mangrove swamp lands for the expansion of the project.
Despite all the old talk about EIA and approval from the Planning Department, it is no secret that there have been allegations of corruption by officials attached to the planning department.
The level of solidarity and support given by the NNP to the developers of this particular project is rivaled only by the development at the Lagoon Road project in Grenada. The prime minister has made a number of personal visits to the site over the years, as recently as Saturday 22nd June 2014.
Every visit by the prime minister is followed by the massive dredging and dumping of tonnes of sand and sand stones from the seafront, destroying the mangrove swamplands over an extended area, with very little regard for the environment. It seems that the developers of the project are using these visits to hoodwink the local population into supporting the project.
In an effort to rally support for the project, the prime minister and the developers organised a massive re-opening event in 2013. This had the effect of re-igniting public resentment against the project, putting additional pressure on the developers. There were a number of protests against the project, with discussions and debate hosted by the host of the program Sundays with George Grant.
What is happening at the Harvey Vale Marine project is a manmade environmental disaster. With mounting pressure on the Keith Mitchell led NNP administration to deliver on the many promises made to the electorate, the government is prepared to turn a blind eye on the travesty taking place at the site.
On Saturday 2nd June 2014 the NNP administration in collaboration with the developers organised what they referred to as a public consultation on the site of the project. This so called consultation exercise was used as a propaganda tactic by the developers and the NNP to garner support for the project.
Free transportation was organised to take party supporters to and from the site. It would be interesting to know who foot the bill for this transportation.
What came out from the consultation is that there is no coherency between the government, developer and other stake holders. Varying accounts were given and at times it seems that even the developer was not too certain as to what he intends to accomplish with the project.
The parliamentary secretary in the ministry of agriculture tried to clear up some of the burning issues but instead tied himself up since he has no idea of what is happening at the site. He was rebutted by Dr Innis, a Barbadian environmentalist, who provided an honest and candid assessment of the project.
Dr Innis must be commended for her professionalism and expertise in this area. She posed a number of questions to which the developers didn't have an answer or lacked the skill and knowledge of what she was referring to. She asked if the developers had any idea of where the sand in the area came from, a simple but scientific question, to which the developer responded that no sand is being barged into the area. This shows that lack of knowledge by the developers of the environmental impact of the project.
Dr Innis begged for caution and more scientific analysis of the project. She noted the experiences of the Four Seasons in her own country and pleaded to the developers and government to so the necessary assessment and analysis
What came out of the presentation by Dr Innis is that the project will have long lasting negative impact on the environment. She indicated to the gathering the effect this is having on the beach at Tyrell Bay. The beach to the south of the Marina Project is already disappearing. Increased sea erosion is taking place there as the dredging escalates.
Despite the call for caution by Dr Innis, both the prime minister and his deputy in their presentation told the gathering that the project will go ahead in its current form. Mitchell and Nimrod who are almost 70 years old seem not to care about the negative impact this project will have on the environment. Their support for the project is pure politics. Grenadians are suffering as a result of the poor leadership demonstrated by Mitchell and Nimrod in the past. There are many failed projects in the nation that can be attributed to their poor leadership and judgement yet both men seem hell bent on supporting the marina project despite the call for caution by Dr Innis.
The question that should be answered is why is the NNP administration and in particular Keith Mitchell and Elvin Nimrod so supportive of a project that they approved in 2001, should have been completed in five years and thirteen years after is still struggling to get off the ground? What vested interest do Keith Mitchell and Elvin Nimrod have in this marina project?
Why is it that these two men see fit to visit this marina project on many occasions with their supporters in solidarity with the developer?
Why did Keith Mitchell and Elvin Nimrod see fit to hold the public consultation on the site of the marina project, instead of a neutral venue?
Why did Keith Mitchell tried to belittle and disrespect a citizen of the country who has legitimate concerns about the project?
Why did Elvin Nimrod coerce his supporters to say no to the halting of the project.
It is really astonishing to see the extent to which a prime minister and his deputy will go to support an investor knowing full well that what they are doing is detrimental to the long term livelihood of thousands of people. The reminds me of George Bush and Dick Cheney in their pursuit of the Iraq war. Over 120,000 Iraqis have been killed and thousands are still dying every month as a result .
The so called public consultation was just a political ploy to use unsuspecting party supporters to support a project that was ill conceived and will be an environmental disaster for the people of Carriacou. The reasons advanced in support of the project by Nimrod and Keith are guided by blind politics.
If the fanatical party supporters who were bused to the consultation understood what Dr Inniss said in her presentation they would have no doubt have a much different point of view of the project. However, since the majority of them are the revolution referred to as 'lumpen', the developer, Keith and Nimrod can get any with anything. It is extremely sad and unfortunate that 200 years after the end of slavery there are so much modern 'political slaves' in Grenada.
In conclusion, the marina project is a travesty. The complete destruction of the mangrove swamplands and the Harvey Vale beach is an environmental disaster. In their quest to prolong their political longevity Keith Mitchell and Elvin Nimrod will oversee the destruction of the environment for a name. Their egos are big but their vision is 'blurred' .
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The consultation to which you referred grenadianclass of the Harvey Vale Marina was broadcast live on TV by the GIS. I thought it was a very good initiative. To me the event was very transparent and gave everyone an opportunity to voice their concerns or to ask questions.
There were a number of residents present who took the opportunity to ask their questions but there was no one there who expressed and misgiving about the project. Well from their questions one could have deduced that they were high in praise for the project.
There were a report from an Environmental Scientist from the USA one Dr Burton. He said he has been in this field for over 32 years. He has done extensive work for the US Marine. He showed a video of the project which he compiled while conducting his research of the project. The video captured scenes on the surface of the water, below the water and the surrounding areas. His Professional conclusion indicate that the project is adding life to the fish stock, oyster bed etc. Dr Innis did not refute his findings.
On the other hand, Dr Innis did not report that she conducted any investigation however, commented on the presentations made by Mr Steil and Mr Mc Quilkin. It was her opinion but was it qualified. She erroneously commented on the amount of sand on a beach stating that it was quickly eroding only to be told that this is the most sand the beach has had in a very long time.
I found it rather strange grenadianclass that you did not think in the interest of free and transparent journalism that it was necessary to share with the readers of Caribbean News Now all the facts. Do you have something to hide or is your vested interested to deceive? What a shame!!!
Julies Gabriel the fact of the matter is that the consultation was a stage event at the Marina site. It was no accident that the sponsors of the consultation chose that location and saw it fit to bus NNP party supporters to the event. Classic NNP political strategy.
Dr Burton presentation or scientific data as you claim was obtain over a 72 hour period. In your own sensible judgement do you think that an accurate assessment of the situation at the site could have been made in such a short time.That project has been lingering for almost 14 years. Dr Burton has no idea of what the area was like before and so he can't make an accurate assessment.
The people who asked the questions were those who bused to the event and probably had prepared questions probably given to them. This project don't have broad base support from the local and foreigners based on it's location at the center of the mangrove swamp lands and in the Marine Park Area.
Julius I would like for you to attempt to answer the many questions posted in the article.
Those who are against the location of the project has nothing to hide or any vested interest to deceive.
The persons who have a vested interest to deceive and something to hide are the Prime Minister and his deputy. They are the one who are spear heading the support for the project even if they know the facts as indicated by Dr Inniss.
Dr. Innis presentation was excellent. She dealt with the facts and the circumstances under which the project is been constructed. Poor Simon Steele and the Developer had no answer to her probing questions and comment. I am certain that the prime minister regretted that Dr Inniss was at the consultation. If you look at the tape again I am certain that you would hear the prime minister mentioning something to the effect here is not the place for that when Dr Iniss CHALLENGE Simon Steele.
The beach has been severely eroded on the southern side if you Julius has an idea of what the area looked like before the project started. The sea water is undermining the main public road as a result and soon the Government will have to build a retaining wall . This will only make the situation worst. However the wall would be necessary if the road is to be protected.
The urge to deliver a few jobs by the Prime Minister and his deputy has clouded their vision and so they are only smelling the smelling salts of a politician and nothing else. Here are two old men doing all they can to destroy the future of the younger generation. That is what you should refer to a A NATIONAL DISGRACE AND SHAME. The people who are entrusted to protect and preserve the environment for future generations are the ones destroying it for THIRTY PIECES OF SILVER. SHAME ON Keith Mitchell and Elvin Nimrod !!!
Keith Mitchell would not have approved of this project, if those involved didn't grease his hands. These people are significantly transforming the Ecosystem through their careless actions. Mitchell would not have approved of this man-made of a disaster if he wasn't getting something from it. He is greedy and loves pay-back.
The ecosystem will be particularly affected. The plants, fishes and even birds and animals. This will affect the ability of the eco-system to provide benefits to the people of Carriacou and surrounding, and its being degraded and used unsustainably.
Harmful consequences of this degradation by Mitchell and his government would be felt and would grow significantly worse over the next few years.
The erosions from the eco-systems could lead to an increase in existing diseases such as malaria and cholera as well as a rising risk of new diseases emerging.
Worsening ecosystems will also affect the world's ability to meet the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDG's)
The link between environmental change and human health are complex because they are often indirect, displaced in space and time and dependent on a number of modifying forces. These are two ways of avoiding diseases and injury caused by ecosystem disruption.
One is to prevent, limit or manage environmental damage; the other way is to find ways to protect individuals and populations from the consequences of ecosystem change.
Why Keith Mitchell love and enjoys quick fixes, I will never know. Only in his best interest. The people of Carriacou will never know their true strength until they test it.Where is your drive people of Carriacou and Grenada, and Petit Martinique, only you can stop this man-made of a disaster from happening, Why would you allow unscrupulous persons to ruin your home, Come together in unity and stop the project. It can be done. Where is your drive to make Carriacou a better place?