Is there a big cover up by our government on the future of Agalega?

There is a general public perception of a big cover up by this government on the future of Agalega. This government has always got the tendency to mortgage or to sell the “family silver” which generally represents the ultimate earning as a last attempt to make up for their extravagance and mismanagement. After going through what has been published in the foreign press, especially in India, one is left spell-bound and that public perception is being reinforced today.

According to a news article published in ‘The Indian Express’ recently, India is actually doing a survey as to use Agalega as a surveillance base. The objective is to make Agalega a surveillance base for India. This base will be situated in the atoll of the islet that India hired sometimes ago from Mauritius.  This press report specifies that though the Mauritian government never says a word about this matter, many sources reveal and affirm that progress is still being made on this project.

The Indian Express” makes it clear that this Base of Surveillance will be complementary similar to the one installed by India at Madagascar. Besides, in his issue of July 18, last year ‘La Lettre de L’Océan Indien’ mentions that the Station or Base of Surveillance of the Indian Radar has started operating since the beginning of July in the north of Madagascar

The Authority concerned in Mauritius said that they are not aware of an indian project of that sort on Agalega. “Never heard such a thing”, said the Prime Minister’s Office. “As far as we know, there is nothing. If there were a project we would have known or be made aware of it”, said a spokesman from the Outer Island Development Cooperation (OIDC), responsible for the welfare of Agalega.

At the Foreign Affairs Ministry in Mauritius, there was no comment made to that effect. The same thing applies at the High Commission of India where no one says a word about such an Indian Project on Agalega. “We don’t wish to comment a press article of any kind” was the diplomatic reply of the High Commission Office.

Last November, another indian paper namely ‘The Times of India’ has mentioned that an eventual concession in favour of the great Peninsula (India) exists. This paper even mentions that a lease is to be given to India on Agalega for a need to develop it for Tourism and Agricultural purposes “or for another strategic objective”. “The Times of India” has taken great consideration to specify that “the offer made by Mauritius” is still under discussion.

Up to now the government of Mauritius, namely the Prime Minister’s Office, has always denied that such a project exists. The Prime Minister has also denied this matter at the National Assembly. But the fact remains that foreign press, particularly Indian newspapers are still reporting about the progress of this project. Is there something being cooked-up behind our back?

Let us not forget that. The Indian government has also realized a hydrographic survey to determine which would be the best location in Agalega to facilitate the mooring.

Such an exercise, according to the government has never been made in Mauritius and would have cost between Rs 40 and Rs 100 million. “India has done it freely for us” declared a spokeswoman from the Foreign Affairs. “The Indian government has also expressed his desire to present a plan to develop some activities of economic nature on Agalega”, we were told.

There is another project similar to the atoll one. Arcon, a South African Company has submitted a big project for the construction of a village resort in Agalega consisting 60 villas, 20 luxury apartments and 1 private clinic namely, a plastic surgery. This investment is about Rs 8.1 billion.

A delegation from Arcon was in Mauritius sometimes ago to assure a follow up of this project in hand which the dossier is at the Ministry of Housing & Lands. The consideration of the lease is under examination by the Ministry of Housing & Lands

There is confusion. A deliberate confusion! It is about time that both the government of India and the government of Mauritius come out with clean hands. Both India and Mauritius are supposed to be democracies. Therefore, we expect the two governments to make clear statements to the world about their intention concerning Agalega. We don’t want to convert that peaceful region to vulnerable one. We should not forget that countries like China, Pakistan, Iran, South Africa and others would not stand with folded arms as helpless spectators. The reaction will no doubt create a cold war in this otherwise peaceful region.

By Dr Samuel Nicholas Duymun