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Ministry of Education, Tertiary Education, Science and Technology

Tertiary - Study Abroad/UNESCO

(No. B/1301) Mr G. Lesjongard (Second Member for Port Louis North & Montagne Longue) asked the Minister of Education, Culture and Human Resources whether, in regard to the Le Morne Mountain, he will, for the benefit of the House, obtain from the Le Morne Heritage Trust Fund, information as to if tourist-related activities are being carried out thereat and, if so, if permission has been granted for such activities, indicating by whom and when.
Dr. Bunwaree: Mr Speaker Sir, I have been informed that two companies carry out tourist-related activities on the Le Morne Mountain.
Yanature carries out hiking since 2004.
Incentive Partners Ltd organises mountaineering trips since 2005.
I am further informed that the Forestry Service of the Ministry of Agro Industry, Food Production and Security, which controls Le Morne Brabant Mountain, classified as a reserve under the Forest and Reserves Act 1983, is aware that people go for trekking on the mountain. Under this Act, permission is not required to enter a mountain reserve. However, no request has been received at the Ministry of Agro Industry, Food Production and Security for commercial mountaineering activities on Le Morne Brabant Mountain.
Le Morne has been proclaimed as National Heritage in January 2006 and was inscribed on the World Heritage List in July 2008.
On the basis of the new status of Le Morne, activities proposed to be carried out in the Core and Buffer Zones should have approval of the National Heritage Fund and Le Morne Heritage Trust Fund.
I have been advised that there is no record that the promoters have sought and obtained permission to carry out their activities.
Thus Le Morne Heritage Trust Fund and the National Heritage Fund have not been in a position to assess whether these activities are compatible with the Le Morne Cultural Landscape Management Plan and the Planning Policy Guidance 2 – Le Morne Cultural Landscape.
The Le Morne Heritage Trust Fund and the National Heritage Fund have written to the two above mentioned companies to inform them of the National and World Heritage status of the site and requested them to apply for authorisation to carry out these activities, and in the meantime to put a halt to their activities on the mountain.
Upon receipt of the applications, these two bodies will examine them in line with Le Morne Cultural Landscape Management Plan and a decision will be taken.
Mr Speaker Sir, I have also been informed by the Tourism Authority that a “Table d’Hôte” is operating at the foot of Le Morne Mountain in Morcellement Cambier. A licence was issued on 27 May 2008 by the Tourism Authority.
The Tourism Authority is liaising with the National Heritage Fund and Le Morne Heritage Trust Fund to find out whether the activity is compatible with the heritage status of the site.
Mr Lesjongard: Mr Speaker, Sir, I understand from the Minister that there is a “Table d’Hôte” operating there since May 2008 and we all know that during that period the management plan for Le Morne was under preparation. How do we reconcile that, at the same time that the dossier was being presented at UNESCO, the Tourism Authority issued a licence for the operation of a “Table d’Hôte” at Le Morne Mountain?
Dr. Bunwaree: It is difficult for me to answer this question because the Tourism Authority had given the licence, but this is being looked into. In any case the licence is valid until May 2009. We will look into all that, Mr Speaker, Sir.
Mr Bérenger: I heard the hon. Minister say that the two Trust Funds, Le Morne Heritage Trust Fund and the National Heritage Trust Fund, wrote to the two operators, telling them to hold their operations pending their making a request and it seems that they have just carried on. Have these two Trusts taken any action, approached Government for action, including Police action?
Dr. Bunwaree: This is being envisaged, Mr Speaker, Sir, but these people were carrying these activities before and we have given them some time to stop. In fact, they ought to have stopped altogether by this time.
Mr Lesjongard: The hon. Minister mentioned that the Authority is looking into the compatibility of those activities. May we know the outcome, Mr Speaker, Sir, because I understand that there are other requests pending at the Tourism Authority for commercial activities?
Dr. Bunwaree: Sir, since we have obtained the inscription, things have become very serious, but these people were already operating there and all this is being taken into consideration. We do not know the outcome because the work is not over yet.
Mr Ganoo: Can the hon. Minister inform the House whether the “Table d’Hôte” is being run by a private company or by an individual? If so, can we know the name and whether the Morne Village Council opinion was sought before granting this licence?
Dr. Bunwaree: In fact, the licence was issued to l’incontournable Shangrilla. I do not know whether it is the name of the place or company. I’ll look into that and inform the Member accordingly.
Mr Ganoo: Was the opinion of Le Morne Village Council sought?
Mr Speaker: The Minister said that he will look into the matter.
Dr. Bunwaree: The licence was given by the Tourism Authority and they must have looked into all that.
(No. B/740) Mr P. Jhugroo (Third Member for Port Louis North and Montagne Longue) asked the Minister of Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade whether, in regard to the UNESCO Office of Mauritius in Paris, he will
(a) give a list of the staff posted thereat, indicating their respective grades and terms and conditions of employment
(b) state the amount of money spent on
(i) rent
(ii) telephone
(iii) transport/travelling
(iv) overtime
(v) ceremonials/receptions, since its coming into operation to date, and
(c) state the name of the Ambassador posted thereat, indicating his/her present terms and conditions of appointment.
Dr. Boolell: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, the Office of the Permanent Delegate of Mauritius to UNESCO in Paris is operational as from April 2006 and the staff comprise one first Secretary and one second Secretary whose terms and conditions of employment are similar to other officers of the diplomatic cadre posted overseas and in accordance with PRB Report 2008. There are also three local recruits employed as Confidential Secretary, Secretary/Administrative Assistant and Driver respectively. Their terms and conditions of employment are governed by the prevailing local legislation.
As regards part (b) of the question, I am advised that as per records an amount of Rs17.4 m. has been spent up to 30 June 2009 on rent, telephone, travelling/transport, overtime and ceremonials/receptions since the coming into operation of the Office of the Permanent Delegation in April 2006.
As for part (c) of the question, Mrs Indira Savitree Thacoor-Sidaya is posted as Permanent Delegate at the Office of the Permanent Delegation, UNESCO since April 2006. She is still employed on a contract basis of three years which began as from 14 April 2006. Her contract has been extended up to the 35th UNESCO General Conference and the election of a new Director-General.
The terms and conditions of the staff and the Permanent Delegate and detailed expenses incurred are being tabled.
Mr Gunness: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, the hon. Minister lumped all the sums into one, that is, Rs17.4 m. Can we know from him the amount for rent, telephone, transport/travelling, overtime and ceremonials/receptions separately?
Dr. Boolell: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, the relevant information will be circulated.
Mrs Hanoomanjee: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, the hon. Minister has just mentioned that the contract of Mrs Thacoor-Sidaya has been extended further till another UNESCO conference.
During budget time, it was stated that with a view to reducing costs some ambassadors will be called back. Can I ask the hon. Minister whether this matter, that is, the next UNESCO conference, cannot be dealt with by our Embassy in Paris?
Dr. Boolell: As I have stated, the Embassy in Paris will be accredited to UNESCO.
When the time comes, we will designate a specific person to deal with the UNESCO.
Mr Jhugroo: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, can I know from the hon. Minister the time frame when these information will be circulated?
Dr. Boolell: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, the information will be made available and appropriate information will be circulated.
Mr Jhugroo: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, very often I hear from the hon. Minister that the information will be compiled. I know that he works like Dalton brothers, can I ask him for this case, whether he can act faster than Lucky Luke?
Dr. Boolell: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I am not in the habit of replying to nincompoops.
            (No. B/696) Mr S. Baboo (Second Member for Vacoas & Floreal) asked the Minister of Public Infrastructure and Land Transport whether, in regard to the Aapravasi Ghat, he will state if the authorisation of UNESCO was sought and obtained prior to the implementation of the Metro Express Project inasmuch as same is close to the buffer zones thereof, and, if so, when.
            Mr Bodha: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I am informed that the alignment of the Metro Express Project will go along the buffer zone of the Aapravasi Ghat leading to the Immigration Square Metro Station.
In this context, at the request of the Metro Express Limited (MEL), the Ministry of Arts and Culture has solicited the advice of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) as regards measures to be adopted in relation to construction/development to take place in the buffer zone of the World Heritage Site.  I wish to inform the House that compliance with the Planning Policy Guideline was ensured by the Singapore Cooperation Enterprise during the preparation of the reference design of the Mauritius Light Rapid Transport System during the years 2012 and 2013.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I am also informed that Mr John Nicholos Clarke, an expert from the International Council of Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) and Dr. Georges Okelo Abungu, from the UNESCO, were in Mauritius from 12 to 18 May 2018 following the invitation from the Ministry of Arts and Culture.
Mr John Nicholos Clarke had working sessions with the Metro Express Ltd on 14 May, whereby the reference design of the details of the Metro Express Project along the buffer zone of Aapravasi Ghat was presented. The expert provided some suggestions on the development of the Metro Express Project along the buffer zone of the Aapravasi Ghat.
Mr John Nicholos Clarke also had a meeting at the Ministry of Public Infrastructure and Land Transport, whereby the Request for Proposal for the Immigration Square Bus Terminal was presented and suggestions as regards the alignment and location of the Metro station were made.  Same were also incorporated in the Request for Proposal to promoters.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I am further informed that, on 15 May, Mr John Nicholos Clarke and Dr. Abungu had a meeting with Landscope Ltd regarding development projects within the buffer zone of the Aapravasi Ghat.  They also met with ten potential interested applicants in Réduit for the setting up of the Immigration Square Bus Terminal. They provided clarifications on guidelines to be followed for construction within the buffer zone so as to ensure both that development and conservation go hand in hand. Emphasis was laid on the importance of maintaining the visual impact assessment to preserve the integrity and the cultural value of Aapravasi Ghat.
The experts will submit a report on 27 July 2018 to the UNESCO for validation, thereafter the final report will be transmitted to the Government of Mauritius through my colleague, the Minister of Arts and Culture.
            Furthermore, in the Request for Proposal, mention was made that the successful applicant shall apply and obtain all applicable and prescribed licences, permits and clearances from the relevant authorities, including the National Heritage Fund and the planning policy guideline for the buffer zone of the Aapravasi Ghat and comply with all the local laws and regulations and guidelines in force in Mauritius. The Evaluation Team for the Immigration Square Urban Terminal comprises an expert who is well versed in the World Heritage Sites and Planning Policy Guidelines.
            Mr Baboo: Does the hon. Minister find it normal when the project has already started that now we are having the visits of experts to give their views and approval?
            Mr Bodha: The project has not started yet.  The extension of the Metro from Victoria Square to Immigration Square is going to be in the second stage.  That is the first thing.
As regards to the Urban Terminal, the project has not started yet and the promoters have been able to have working sessions with the experts of the UNESCO so that they know exactly what can be done and what cannot be done. As soon as the evaluation is done and the promoter is chosen and the contract is awarded, he will have to, again, in the light of the report of the two experts from UNESCO, he will have to apply for all the clearances, and I would like to reassure the hon. Member that we know that it is a World Heritage Site and we should do everything, I think there are two words which are very interesting here, is as regards to the integrity and the historical value of the site which we have to conserve.
            Now, there is something else also.  The experts even told us that today the site is cut by a motorway and asked us whether in the project of the Urban Terminal, we could not have part of the Aapravasi Ghat in the Urban Terminal, that is, for example, a museum, a certain number of issues, elements which will see to it that the Aapravasi Ghat is not only on this side of the buffer zone but at the Immigration Square.
            Mr Baboo: The hon. Minister, in his intervention on the Budget, informed the House that there was a visit of the two experts and now he just said that the report will be submitted.  So, once the report is submitted, is it possible for the Minister to table a copy to the House?
            Mr Bodha: Yes, I think that the Aapravasi Ghat is a National World Heritage Site belonging to the nation. I do not see any issue about tabling the copy of the report.
            The Deputy Speaker: Last question, hon. Baboo!
            Mr Baboo: Thank you.  It is more than the buffer zone, it is the core zone.  So, can the hon. Minister confirm to the House that Larsen and Toubro will not bring extra cost in case of any changes or recommendations made by UNESCO?
            Mr Bodha: Yes, but I would like to make it very clear to my hon. colleague that Larsen and Toubro is concerned with the rail project, the Urban Terminal is a private investment, but we will see to it that, in fact, the private investment, in its design, should take care of all that has to be preserved.  As regards to Larsen and Toubro, for the metro-line, the budget is within this Rs18.8 billion and there will be no extra cost.