18 November 2012

Mauritius: High Heeled

Here's the Rs100 billion question: did Dulthumun and co know who the real owners of CT Power were when they decided to set up the Hindu Common Front to defend the CT Power coal power station project?

In a plaint lodged in the supreme court last week, the ACAP, a group regrouping inhabitants of Albion, avers that in 2008, the Malaysian promoter of CT Power transferred the entirety of his shares to CT Holdings, a company incorporated in a remote federal state in Malaysia. The beauty of this kind of offshore company is that it allows you to keep secret the identity of the real owners of that company.

So basically, since 2008, nobody - save a lucky few - knows who the people who stand to gain about Rs100 billion over 20 years, by burning coal that our taxes will provide them and by selling our coal back to the CEB, are.

Yet, the reason why people involved in so-called socio cultural groups have been lobbying for CT power is because they reckon everybody, regardless of skin colour should be able to make an easy buck.

That's the official line, of course.

Except that, according to ACAP, the Malaysian promoter, Subramaniam, is very chummy with people in government. So much so that during the electoral campaign of 2005, Subramaniam printed posters and made CDs for the Alliance Sociale for a nominal fee. Shortly after his friends won the elections, Subramaniam, allegedly wanted his back scratched in return. The friends obliged. But then things started to go awry. Alarm bells started ringing until public opinion, sensing that something was amiss, demanded to know what exactly was going on. After a long bout of indecision, CT Power was denied its EIA permit.

The matter then, seemed settled. But how could it be when there are so many vested interests at play? A month after the EIA permit was denied, the prime minister goes to celebrate Varusha Pirapu and he chose that platform to announce that the CT Power project would be reassessed, saying that the EIA report might have been manipulated.

Another month goes by and DPM Beebeejaun makes himself the mouthpiece of CT power and announces in Parliament that an inquiry would be made into the allegations of irregularity made by the promoters to the effect that the EIA report was falsified.

There was no inquiry. The matter went before the Environment tribunal and CT power won its case. Bizarrely, even after this, the lobbies continued. Intensified even. The race and religion cards were played as the promoter, Subramaniam was supposed to be part of the GOPIO connection. Yet, that connection

has been gone for four years.

So whose interest is Dulthumun and co really defending? Do they even know? But that's hardly relevant, for Dulthumun doesn't matter. An explanation from government is highly relevant however. Warranted, even. And the time is now.

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