TP Saran

Maurice Ile Durable? Or Maurice Ile Défigurée? 

What about the eco-impact of the new Wooton-Belle Rive road?


For many of us who have known this road for over half a century, we remember it as a beautifully winding, tree-lined, shaded stretch with woodlands extending beyond the trees. And most likely these were part of the natural flora of the island, that is, they had not been planted but were left after clearing in those early days when the road was built.

Walking, cycling or driving down that road, especially when there was no rush of traffic, was not only a pleasure to the eyes because of the greenery and the play of the sun’s rays through the branches and leaves, but also to the body as a whole because of the cooling effect of the shade produced by the trees which was certainly a major feature of this area.

Alas, sad to say, all this is now gone for ever. As we drove along the modernized version the other day, we felt a sense of loss. No doubt it was wider, smoother, and the traffic flow easier – but at what cost! Gone were the lovely, age-old trees, the adjoining woodlands. Gone too was the aesthetic appeal and the shade that was so endearing! And also the couple of quaint little bridges with their gently flowing streams – in fact, where have the streams disappeared?

The new substitute was about six months in the making. It is not disputed that the narrow road had outlived its size, and had to be widened to accommodate the greater volume of traffic to and from the eastern part of the island. But was an environmental impact assessment done? And if it was, was there any consideration given to restoration of at least some of the pristine aspects of the existing structure and its environs?

Along with building the new road, why was there not a plan to plant trees simultaneously in replacement of the ones that were felled, as well as to clear the sides of the road of the debris that is still lying about? What have those who have recently attended the Copenhagen Summit brought in their bag for this poor little old road and the trees and woodlands that hugged it, replaced rather expensively by a much larger expanse of metalled surface, and the natural flora irreversibly destroyed?

And now just see what is happening at Ebene, being converted into a jungle of concrete, with scant regard for making up with adequate compensatory greenery. Maurice Ile Durable? Or Maurice Ile Défigurée?


5-star holiday at Beau Bassin
Why are prison guards being attacked with such brazenness?

Left to himself, it is quite possible that the present Commissioner of Prisons would shift the prisoners to, why, Royal Palm! In fact, they are being spoilt so much that the prison for them is, as LEX pointed out last week, even better than their house for all we know! That is why they feel, like they would at home, that they can do whatever they like and get away with it.

Add to that the stridency of the jaundiced protagonists of human rights for criminals but with total indifference for justice towards the victims of these criminals, and you have the latter behaving as though they are masters. They impose themselves and feel so protected in their rights that they defy everybody and make their own rules of how they want to live out their 5-star holiday at Beau Bassin.

From our simple layman’s point of view, it is obvious that all prisoners cannot be treated in the same manner. A few categories suggest themselves:

* Minor and intermediate offences eg petty larceny, unpaid debts, etc.
* Offences without any violence or causing any bodily harm, or causing unintentional bodily harm.
* Offences with premeditation and causing grievous bodily harm.
* Causing death in self-defence or through violence without premeditation.
* Premeditated murders.
* Drug users – consumers and traffickers, first/single or recurrent offence.

There must be some others but we will restrict ourselves to these few for the time being. From this it is evident that the most serious offenders would be the ones who have acted with premeditation, or knowingly where drug offences, especially recurrent ones, are concerned.

Such offenders do not deserve any sympathy or empathy, and they must receive the harshest treatment possible. Only their basic survival must be ensured and the human rights activists, whether or not they are from the UN, should not be allowed access to them. Since we are fond of quoting Singapore, let our leaders go there and find out how they dealt with their prisoners. ‘First order,’ had said Premier Lee Kuan Yew (himself a lawyer), ‘then law!’

If the authorities are serious about putting order in our prison, and ensure the safety and security of prison guards and their families, the first thing they should do is to appoint a Commissioner who is more familiar with the Mauritian context, and who is not a fanatic of prisoner comfort. Otherwise the situation will only get worse.

TP Saran

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