THE SENTINEL – Review of IAGDO’S EIA SEMINAR
The caption of the article came to mind as the Sentinel perused the documents submitted, in preparation for the EARTH DAY SEMINAR HELD ON April 22, 2021 – which was organized by the Inter Agency Group of Development Organizations (IAGDO) in collaboration with Friends of the Earth and the Willie Redhead Foundation.
The theme of the seminar was to examine and analyse the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and the Physical Planning and Development Approval process in Grenada, due to what appears to be a constant conflict, as to whether in the first instance an EIA is required; although the Building Approval and Control Act (as revised) states specifically when an EIA is required, prior to the commencement of a specific type of development.
If an EIA is required, there is the further confusion as to whether the document should be scrutinized as required by law – by the community/neighbourhood in which it would be located and to assess its impact before it is constructed, and as to whether it conforms/harmonise with the cultural and physical environment in which it is to be erected, or whether it is a private document for the developer and the Planning Authority’s consideration ONLY.
The uncertainty of the above scenerio has resulted in the recent past to Public demonstrations against developments in the LaSagesse, St. Patricks and Mt. Hartman areas where prior to construction, the ecosystems of these sites were destroyed beyond recognition and has left a hither-to pristine environment like a desert in PURE GRENADA.
The public may not be aware that Dr. Mitchell – prime minister, is the self appointed minister responsible for the Physical Planning and Development Control Authority and this Authority comes under his direct control, and is the same Authority through its technical arm – the Physical Planning Unit (PPU), that remains hostile to any enquiry by the public who has standing – into the contents of an EIA that could effect a community’s social, cultural, economic and political existance, hence the public reaction by demonstrations.
What is even more interesting is the public statement by the prime minister after a series of demonstrations especially against the La Sagesse Hotel project, when he made the following pronouncement:
“planning is a critical part of the country’s development and it must be treated more seriously than it currently is and requires greater compliance with planning policies, regulations and notices.”
He is further quoted as saying: “We must act quickly to provide more enforcement power with respect to physical planning. It is not acceptable that a STOP NOTICE is given and the
contractor and or owner simply ignores this and continues building. That amounts to lawlessness; people cannot be ignoring the law of the land”.
In a related matter – what is even more alarming was another statement made by the prime minister on the GBN evening newscast of May 10th – that he was not aware of the extent of the deplorable state of Grenada’s road network (words to that effect) – after being in office for “donkey’s years”. This statement expressed with a conceited smile – could only have been made to what he perceived to be an idiotic audience, who has “given” him on more than one occasion all 15 seats in parliament, resulting in a Grenada that has lost its way.
The EARTH DAY SEMINAR therefore height lighted and underscored the short comings of the PPU, especially in the execution of large projects requiring an EIA study before the project begins. This department and the Planning Board, under the direction of the prime minister exposes the structure of an important arm of government that is under-staffed by non-professionals who appear (to be) unable to cope with the 21st century demands required of it, in the orderly and environmentally friendly development of Grenada, and a board filled with NNP sycophants.
A national development policy that disrespect nature (the environment) and history, is doomed to failure – Paolo Soleri. This fundamental existential principle seem to have escaped the attention of the petty bourgeois government of Dr. Mitchell, and no matter how many more hotels are built by his Egyptian benefactor, the conservation and protection of our physical (natural) environment must not continue to be given scant consideration in the absence of a Land Use Policy after 47 years of Independence. The above pronouncement by Dr. Mitchell will therefore ring hollow, as his message continues to be “Do as I say but not as I do”, as he is reluctant to implement his own advise – (Echoes of deception/or is it corruption).
Grenada is blessed by the miracle of creation in the natural endowment of PURE GRENADA which are being sacrificed for a few low paying jobs – In the sweat shop industry of Grenada for sale, and the tourism sector which should boost the economy by the enhancement and promotion of our natural charm and ambiance would regrettably become an historic footnote, seen only in deceptive advertisements by the Tourism Authority in glossy magazines and fake television footage for unsuspecting visitors, as pure Grenada gradually disappears.
A Wille Redhead Foundation presentation