Exploitation of our Natural Resources

Mauritius Times – 60 Years

Since the new Council met almost every week the question of lease of Crown Lands and Pas Géométriques is brought to the forefront of the debate. From time-to-time people are shocked to learn that these lands are leased to big planters for the paltry sum of one to seven rupees per arpent per annum. Barachois in which hundreds of pounds of fish are caught every year are leased at ridiculous rates. Sand quarries from which thousands of rupees of sand are dug every month are leased to landlords, in some cases, for Rs 100 for a period of six months. Below are official statements concerning Crown Lands and Pas Géométriques.

It is surprising that though in some cases leases have expired, as far back as on the 30th of June 1949, the lessees continue to occupy the lands.

It is not our intention to blame the present administration. They are not responsible for land leased forty or fifty years ago. On the contrary there is a tendency on the part of officials to help the Government in its policy of redistribution of Crown Lands on a more equitable basis.

We have already written about the help given by the Government to farmers in Great Britain. Great agricultural countries have framed very up to-date land policies. For example, in order to help the landless peasants, India has fixed a ceiling of land ownership. No proprietor has the right to hold more than 30 acres. Those who have more are compelled to sell it to the Government which in its turn parcel it out to the landless for a nominal rent.

While the world is progressing so fast, how can we still hold on to archaic laws. Almost all the ten thousand arpents of Crown Lands and Pas Géométriques are leased by big landlords who do not need them. They will help the poor people and the country as a whole if they would consent to voluntarily release these lands before the date of expiry of their leases.

The eyes of thousands of landless peoples are now turned towards Hon A. R. Mohamed the Minister of Land, and towards Hon Boolell, Minister of Agriculture and towards the Executive Council. It is up to them to take up a decision which will make the people happy. If they succeed, their names will go down in history as those who have got rid of two-century old privilege.

On the 12th of May 1959, Hon J. N. Roy asked the Minister of Housing & Lands to say how many arpents of Crown Lands and Pas Géométriques are there in the Constituency of Plaine Magnien, to whom they are leased and the rent claimed. Replying, the Minister stated that:

64 arpents:                Major Guimbeau for Rs 300 per annum

10 arpents:                Dr Darne for Rs 425 p.a.

224.62 arpents:        Mon Tresor & Mon Desert Ltd for Rs 1606.25 p.a.

26 arpents:                Heirs B&R Gujadhur for Rs 51 p.a.

61.75 arpents:           Savinia Ltd for Rs 28 p.a.

270.50 arpents:        Beau Vallon Ltd for Rs 391 p.a.


To the following questions of Hon Roy:

(1) What is the acreage of Pas Géométriques and Crown Lands rented to Le Morne Estate?

(2) How are the lands so rented utilized?

(3) Is he satisfied that the use that is being made of the lands is to the best advantage of the Colony? If not, what steps does he propose to take?

The Minister replied:

(1) 669 arpents 14 of Pas Géométriques and Crown Lands at Le Morne are leased to Mrs Hugh Cambier.

(2) 409 A 80 are leased for tree planting: 259 A 54 leased for unspecified purposes are probably used for cattle grazing.

(3) The matter is being examined and if it is found that these lands may be put to a better use, appropriate action will be taken.

To a question asked by Hon. J. N. Roy on 28 April 58 concerning the lease of Government Sand Quarries, the Minister of Agriculture replied:

(a) Belle Mare Inland Sand Quarry:          Nouvelle Société de Belle Mare at a rental of Rs 1,000 for six months.

(b) Ile aux Cerfs Sand Quarry:                   Flacq United Estates Ltd at a rental of Rs 100 for six months.

(C) Mon Desert Sand Quarry:                    Mon Désert and Mon Trésor Lid at a rental of Rs 100 for six months.

(d) Le Souffleur Sand Quarry:                   Savinia Co Ltd at a rental of Rs 100 for six months.

(e) Beau Champ & Ste Marie Inland Sand Quarry: Compagnie Sucriere de Bel Ombre at a rental of Rs 450 for six months.

(f) Le Morne Sand Quarry:                                     Mrs H. Gambier at a rental of Rs 100 for six months.

The revenue derived from these quarries during the period 1 July 1957 to 30 June 1958 will be Rs 3,700.

6th Year – No 251
Friday 5th June, 1959

Mauritius Times ePaper Friday 6 October 2023

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