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3 ENVIRONMENTAL FRAMEWORK IN MAURITIUS




3.1 Introduction

The institutional and legislative policy, for environmental management and protection
in Mauritius stems principally from the first National Environmental Action Plan
(NEAP1) produced in 1988. The Plan has subsequently been reviewed and revised,
and a new environmental strategy for the next decade has been formulated in the
second National Environmental Action Plan, or NEAP2, which was produced in 1999.
This comprehensive Plan sets out the second Environmental Investment Programme
for the Republic of Mauritius.

The Mauritian economy has expanded rapidly over the last twenty years due mainly
to the successful implementation of successive economic stabilisation and structural
adjustment programmes. As a result, prior to implementation of the original NEAP,
there were increasing pressures from the domestic, industrial, agricultural and tourism
sectors for limited resources, but inadequate mechanisms in place to ensure sound
environmental management and protection.

Recent industrial proliferation on the Island is of particular concern due to the use of
numerous potentially hazardous materials whose effects on the environment are
either unknown or unappreciated. Wastewater and trade effluents are rarely treated
effectively, if at all, and their release constitutes a potential threat to drinking water
supplies and the fragile coastal ecology. Current practices in solid waste disposal are
also generally inadequate although efforts are being made. In the agricultural sector
there are concerns that application rates of agro-chemicals, including both fertilisers
and pesticides, are excessive and unsustainable.

The Government of Mauritius committed itself to sustainable economic development
at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de
J aneiro, Brazil, in J une 1992. The Government's aims are, specifically:

to increase efforts to mitigate the adverse effects of environmental
degradation;

to monitor environmental performance of industries, commercial concerns and
the agricultural sector;

to take strong and pro-active action on emerging environmental issues facing
the nation;

to build partnerships with community groups, non-governmental organisations,
business and industry, and all others who may be affected; and

to facilitate public awareness and provide educational opportunities for people
to learn about conservation, respect for the natural environment, and basic
environmental ethics.

These commitments have been reflected by recent developments in the institutional
and legislative provisions for environmental management and protection, culminating
in the production of NEAP2. Those aspects of policy, as well as legislative and

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institutional arrangements, for environmental management that are relevant to the
project are detailed in the following sections.



3.2 The National Environmental Policy

The Government has adopted a National Environmental Policy (NEP). The overall
objective of the NEP is to foster harmony between quality of life, environmental
protection and sustainable development for the present and future generations. The
Government recognises that a high quality environment is essential for the sustained
development of the country's economy and for the health and welfare of its people.

Specific goals and objectives have been declared in order to achieve the overall
objective. The NEP and Maurice Ile Durable goals and objectives of relevance to
the Project are listed below:

(i) The maintenance and enhancement of all aspects of the natural environment
to conserve the variety and richness of life;

(ii) National planning for economic development to be based on sound ecological
principles with necessary environmental impact assessments as prerequisites
for all new industrial, urban and rural, and transportation activities,
incorporating appropriate environmental safeguards;

(iii) The attainment of industrial development in a manner which will conserve the
natural resource base and control the pollution of air, water, land, seas, and
industrial accidents and yet continue to achieve higher standards of living;

(iv) To safeguard the occupational health and safety of workers in all industrial,
commercial and agricultural sectors, including the Export Processing Zone;

(v) To conserve and enhance the quality of the natural heritage of the State of
Mauritius including wildlife, biotic diversity, and sanctuaries for specific
habitats such as mountains, forests, lakes and rivers, beaches, estuaries,
lagoons and islands;

(vi) To establish and enforce air and water quality standards, an environmental
code of conduct, and related quality criteria for monitoring, surveillance and
control of pollution through necessary institutional machinery and legislative
action; and

(vii) To continue co-operating with international organisations for the global
protection of the environment, and to secure pollution abatement technologies
and advice on environmental management.

The most important parts of the NEP and Maurice Ile Durable within the context of
this Project are:

(i) The Government shall meet basic human needs without endangering the
environment.


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(ii) Natural resources of the nation shall be utilised in a way that is ecologically
efficient, with restraint and without waste so that these are available to all
forms of life, and are continued for the use of future generations.

(iii) Land-use activities shall be planned in an environmentally sound manner, so
that there is minimal threat to the natural environment, its aesthetic value and
beauty, and in particular, an environmental impact assessment will be required
prior to the approval of any project with potential or significant impact on the
environment.

(iv) Pollution should be controlled at its source; towards this, and to the extent
possible, the polluter must pay for the cost of cleaning up pollution. In
particular, the Government of Mauritius believes that:

pollution prevention is the direct responsibility of any enterprise
(commercial, industrial or agricultural) which is causing it;

pollution control regulations must be applied during all phases of
industrial activity and operation including the location, design,
construction, start-up, closure, dismantling and clean-up phases;

pollution (both water and air) must be monitored at source for which all
the relevant enterprises should be required to keep records and submit
these to the Department of Environment on a periodic basis;

all discharges of pollutants into the environment by an industry or a
commercial concern must meet the Mauritian standards and criteria;

industries will be encouraged to use environmental audit programmes
as a management tool in achieving environmental protection,
excellence and improving environmental performance of their operating
units/sectors.

(v) It is the belief of the Government that the level of noise pollution should be
minimised so as not to affect the health, welfare and normal continuance of
daily activities of individuals.

(vi) The Government shall:

take both preventative and remedial measures in protecting the
environment;

give due regard, in making economic and social decisions, to the
necessity for protecting the environment;

encourage the participation of the people of Mauritius in the taking of
decisions that affect the environment.

(vii) The Government believes that all nations should respect the 200 miles
economic zone policy; and towards this end, the Government plans to protect
its economic interest as well as to restrict ocean dumping, exploitation of
ocean resources, and other polluting activities.

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(viii) The Government undertakes to issue nation-wide air and water quality
standards, guidelines and codes of practice for use by all industrial and
commercial concerns.



3.3 National Physical Development Plan, 1993/4


The National Physical Development Plan (NPDP) was prepared in 1993/94 to
provide:

a framework for detailed local development planning and control;
a mechanism for the protection of the natural and cultural heritage, and
a basis for public sector investment planning.

The NPDP was based on an earlier Plan prepared in 1977, which was not
implemented. The Plan has no legal status, however, the policies contained in it can
be used as a guide.

The planning policies of most relevance to this project are detailed below.

Urban Development

Policy No. S.1 Location of Major New Development

To concentrate major new green field development in the following key settlements
on land immediately adjoining the existing built-up area.

This policy is concerned with concentrating major new green field development
adjacent to specific key settlements such as Curepipe, Beau-Bassin, and Rose-Hill
amongst others. There is a need, therefore, to increase the capacity of wastewater
treatment facilities serving these areas.

The NPDP defines specific areas set aside for housing. In addition to major housing
sites, areas of land have been identified for industrial development in the NPDP,
some of which will also require wastewater treatment.

Tourism & Recreation

Policy No. TM.1 Concept of Tourist Zones

To focus the development of tourist accommodation and direct support activities in
the North East and South West Tourist Zones.

Policy No. R.6 Coastal Footpath

To gradually establish over the plan period (1995 2015) a continuous coastal
footpath above the high water mark. Where access is obstructed, the footpath should
temporarily be diverted on an alternative route around the obstruction, pending its
removal where possible.



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Agricultural Land and Irrigation

Policy No. AG.1 Protect Agricultural Land

To protect agricultural land in general against the threat imposed by other land uses
and especially the threat of urban development on land with agricultural potential.


Policy No. IR.1 Irrigation Water Use

To ensure more efficient use of available water resources, replacement of surface
irrigation by overhead or localised irrigation should be encouraged wherever
practicable.

Policy No. IR.2 Protect Irrigation Areas

To protect existing and committed irrigation areas from urban development and to
direct development away from the areas most suitable for future irrigation wherever
possible.

Forestry

Policy No. FO.1 Encourage Tree Planting and Protection

To actively encourage the planting of new trees and the protection of existing ones
throughout the Island in both urban and rural areas and particularly to promote
indigenous species.

Minerals

Policy No. MQ.1 Study of Mineral Resources and Demand

To support the carrying out of a special study to establish the demand for and life of
existing land based sources of sand, other aggregates, stone and lime, and to
investigate options and make recommendations on future alternative sources of
supply.

Policy No. MQ.5 Control Sand Extraction from Lagoons

To curtail the practice of removing coral sand from lagoons until a full understanding
is available of the possible damage being done to marine ecosystems in the lagoons
concerned.

General Environment

The NPDP strategy for the environment is:

to safeguard valued elements of the natural and built environments;
to use natural resources in a sensitive and sustainable manner;
to promote land and property development and management practices which will
benefit the environment;
to ensure that development makes a positive contribution to the environment.




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Natural Environment

Policy No. NE.1 Green Natural Areas

To prevent any further reduction in the extent of the Green Natural Areas of Mauritius,
and to encourage and facilitate an overall increase in the extent of the Green Natural
Areas.


Policy No. NE.2 Nature Reserves

All formally proclaimed Nature Reserves (which include important forest areas)
should be clearly demarcated on the ground and their boundaries shown in all
relevant Outline and Detailed Schemes. Notwithstanding the requirements of existing
legislation and guidelines relating to Nature Reserves, no development will be
permitted within these areas which could destroy or adversely affect them.

Policy No. NE.3 Mountain and River Reserves

Mountain Reserves extending to 3,800 ha, and River Reserves extending to 2,740
ha, which are on privately owned land and which are protected by law, should be
clearly demarcated on the ground, and their boundaries shown in Outline or Detailed
Schemes. No development will be permitted in these areas which could destroy or
adversely affect the area.

Policy No. NE.4 Special Protection Areas

In advance of EIP Terrestrial Conservation projects, the proposed Wetlands
Conservation Study and Management Plan, and the Assessment of Environmentally
Sensitive Zones Study, no development will be permitted where it is considered that
rare species and vulnerable habitats would be destroyed or adversely affected.

Policy No. NE.12 Marine Parks

To support current efforts to establish marine parks and reserves, including National
Marine Parks at Baie de lArsenal and Blue Baie (Le Chaland) and the potential
marine parks in the north, west and south-west.

Policy No. BE.1 National Monuments

All currently listed National Monuments, structures and their settings must be
preserved, and any development affecting the cultural, historic and social value of
these will be a material consideration in granting planning permission.

Sewerage

Policy No. U.7 Implementation of National Sewerage Master Plan

The National Sewerage Master Plan should be considered as a complementary
project to the NPDP and its implementation during the plan period is absolutely
essential if improvements to public health and the environment are to be effected.


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3.4 Environmental Institutional Structure

The primary legislation for environmental protection in the Republic of Mauritius is the
Environmental Protection Act, 2002 (EPA). This Act has been amended several
times to take into account developments, such as new environmental standards. The
issue of institutional responsibility under the EPA is complex. Before the Act was
passed in 1991, responsibility for protection of the environment was spread across a
number of Ministries, including those responsible for health, water resources, solid
waste, and marine waters.

The four Ministries have since retained responsibility for enforcing environmental law
in respect of the particular medium or pollutant over which they traditionally had
jurisdiction. The Ministry of Environment has responsibility for enforcing the other
environmental laws.


3.5 Legislative Provisions for Environmental Protection

3.5.1 The Environmental Protection Act 2002

The Environmental Protection Act 2002 (EPA) provides the legal framework for
environmental protection and management in Mauritius. The Act is in force since 1
September 2002. EPA Parts II and III, concerning 'Administration' and 'Enforcing
Agencies' respectively, establish the institutional framework for environmental
protection and management as described in the previous section.

EPA Part IV (Environmental Impact Assessment) concerns the requirements for, and
contents of, an Environmental Impact Assessment and the administrative procedures
that will be followed in processing EIA licence applications. Those development types
requiring an EIA are listed in the First Schedule.

Further details of the structure of EIAs and the legislative requirements are detailed in
Section 2.4 entitled 'The Legislative Requirement for Environmental Impact
Assessment'.

EPA Part V (Spill and Environmental Emergency) makes provision for oil spill
contingency planning and includes measures to be taken in case of an oil spill, the
clean up, disposal of the wastes in an environmentally safe manner and restoration of
the affected environment.

EPA Part VI (National Environmental Standards) concerns the establishment of
national standards for:

surface waters (including fresh and coastal waters);
effluents and wastewaters;
air;
noise;
waste;
pesticide residues; and,
odour.

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The standards are specified by separate regulations, and have already been
promulgated for:

drinking water;
noise;
air; and
effluent from the sugar industry.

EPA Part VII (Coastal and Maritime Zone Management) concerns measures to
provide adequate protection and management of the coastal marine environment.

EPA PART VIII (The Environmental Appeal Tribunal) concerns jurisdiction,
proceedings, determination, regulations of the Tribunal and appeals to the Supreme
Court

EPA PART IX (The National Environment Fund) concerns the object, board, income
and disbursement, audit and accounts and regulations in respect of the fund.

EPA PART X (Environment Protection Fee) concerns the interpretation, the change
to environment protection, the registration of enterprise or activity, surcharge for late
payment and recovery fees

EPA PART XI (Enforcement) concerns programme approval, enforcement and
prohibition, stop order, general provisions, consultation, variation, service, revocation
of notices, powers of entry, entry and arrest without warrant, entry of a dwelling
house, authorised officer to produce authority, obstruction of an authorized officer,
compliance monitoring offences, powers of Court, prosecution and jurisdiction, fixed
penalties and eyesores.

EPA PART XII (Application of Act to Rodrigues) concerns Establishment of Rodrigues
Environment Committee Powers of Island Chief Executive Regulations for Rodrigues

EPA PART XIII (Miscellaneous) concerns restriction of liability, disclosure of information,
code of practice, regulations, repeal, saving and transitional provisions, consequential
amendments

3.5.2 Ports Act, 1998 (amendment 2003)

The Ports Act 1998 (Section 32) empowers the Port Master to control the manner in
which cargo and fuel are taken on, discharged, or handled.

3.5.3 Maritime Zones Act, 2005

The Maritime Zones Act 2005 provides for the preservation and protection of the
marine environment and the prevention and control of marine pollution (Section 15.b.
(iii)) in the territorial waters, the continental shelf, the exclusive economic zone, and
the historic waters of Mauritius.

3.5.4 Fisheries and Marine Resources Act, 1998

The Fisheries Act 1998 provides for penalties against individuals responsible for
pollution impacting on fisheries resources from land-based sources.


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3.5.5 Occupational Safety, Health Act, 2005 (OSHA)

OSHA provides for the duties and responsibilities of the employer regarding safety,
and health towards his employees and other persons who may be affected by his
activities as well as registration requirements of the same.

3.5.6 Inflammable Liquids and Substances Regulations, 1953

This regulation provides for the storage, handling, transportation, permitting and
safety measures to be taken while handling inflammable liquids.

3.5.7 Central Water Authority Act, 1991

The relevant section of the Central Water Authority Act, 1991 refers to the quality of
wastewater disposal to open water bodies.

3.5.8 Waste Water Authority Act, 1991

The Waste Water Authority Act, 1991 places restrictions on wastewater effluent
disposal. Section 3 of the Act established the Waste Water Authority, represented by
the Permanent Secretary, which is empowered to monitor, supervise, manage and
carry out waste water works, to levy taxes and charge expenses. Section 5 of the Act
states that:

(i) no person shall:

(a) dispose of any effluent except as may be authorised by the Authority;
(b) allow effluent to overflow or flow along any surface, gutter or canal;
(c) permit the disposal of any effluent on any property in his ownership or occupation
except in such manner as the Authority may direct and approve;
(d) construct, alter or repair any house sewer, house drain, subsoil drain, treatment
plant or disposal system without the prior approval of the Authority, provided that
minor repair works may be carried out;
(e) allow rainwater, surface water or subsoil water to enter any house sewer as far as
it may be practicable to do so.

(f) without the prior approval of the Authority, construct or install any septic tank, pit,
treatment plant or other assembly meant for the conveyance, treatment or
disposal of effluent


3.6 International Treaties and Agreements

Mauritius is signatory to a number of international treaties and agreements on
environmental protection and conservation including:

3.6.1 Convention for the International Trade in Endangered Species, 1973 (CITIES)

The convention, drawn up in 1973, institutes a system for licensing and controlling the
trade in endangered species, and prohibits the trade in designated endangered

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species. It requires signatories to develop and manage a system of permits and
certificates for all imports and exports of endangered species.

3.6.2 Bio-diversity Convention, 1991

The convention on Biological bio-diversity was signed as part of the Rio "Earth
Summit". The convention requires signatories to protect the biological bio-diversity
within their national boundaries, and to develop bio-diversity action plans.

3.6.3 Convention of the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (Bonn
Convention), 1979

This convention places a responsibility on signatory States to develop conservation
programs and legal protection for threatened populations of migratory species which
temporarily/seasonally reside, or pass through their national borders.


3.7 The Requirement for Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)

The Environmental Protection Act 2002 (as amended) requires any "undertaking" to
be granted an EIA licence prior to operation. Under the legislation, an undertaking
is defined as, "such enterprise or activity, or any proposal, plan, or programme in
respect of an enterprise or activity by a public department, local authority, or any
other person, as is prescribed in the First Schedule, [of the Act] and includes any
modification, change, alteration or addition to an undertaking;

The First Schedule of the Act lists Undertakings Requiring an Environmental Impact
Assessment, and includes Bulk Storage Facilities for Petroleum, Petro-Chemical
and Hazardous Chemical Products under the Manufacturing category. It is
therefore a statutory requirement for the Project to obtain an EIA Licence.

In order to gain an EIA licence under the EPA, the proponent applying for an EIA
licence must produce an EIA report containing, a true statement and description of:

(a) the location of the undertaking and its surroundings;

(b) the principle, concept and purpose of the undertaking;

(c) the direct or indirect effects that the undertaking is likely to have on the
environment;

(d) the social, economic and cultural effects that the undertaking is likely to have
on people and society;

(e) any actions or measures which may avoid, prevent, change, mitigate or
remedy the likely effects of the undertaking on the environment, people and
society;

(f) the inevitable adverse environmental effects that the undertaking is likely to
have on the environment, people and society, if it is implemented in the
manner proposed by the proponent;


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(g) the irreversible and irretrievable commitments of the resources which will be
involved by the undertaking, if implemented in the manner proposed by the
proponent;

(h) any alternatives to the proposed undertaking;

(i) such other information as may be necessary to a proper review of the potential
environmental impact of the undertaking.

Once the EIA Report has been produced it must be submitted to the Director of
Environment as defined under the EPA, 2002. The EIA Report is then advertised in
two issues of The Gazette and two issues of two daily newspapers and is available
for public inspection.

The Department of Environment takes into consideration comments from concerned
ministries and the public and reviews the EIA Report within a period of three months.
The issuance of an EIA licence or the rejection of the proposed development follows
this, or the developer is requested to provide further information.