The Savanne District Council recently appealed to the owners of the abandoned land to have it cleaned and fenced within 15 days. Me Alexandre Le Blanc addresses the sanctions provided for by law for this purpose, as well as the challenges of such a measure.

Leptospirosis, dengue fever… Health authorities are in surveillance mode. Local communities too. And in particular the Savanne district council, which recently went on the offensive. In order to prevent the proliferation of rats and mosquitoes vectors of dengue fever, chikungunya and malaria, he granted a 15-day ultimatum to owners, heirs or people with rights to abandoned land to clean it up. and close them. After this period, appropriate action will be taken under section 61 of the Local Government Act 2011.

What does the law say about this? Me Alexandre Le Blanc explains that under section 61 of the Local Government Act, the municipal or district council has a duty to ensure that land within its jurisdiction is properly maintained, that waste is not do not accumulate there and that the wastelands are fenced off. What do we mean by wastelands? “Regarding wastelands, it should be noted that the law does not define them,” specifies the lawyer.

He also reminds that the council has the power to ask any owner who has garbage or waste on their land to clean it up. The request must be made by the council directly to the owner concerned. The latter has 15 days from receipt of the request to clean up his land and get rid of the garbage found there.

What if the owners concerned do not comply? They face a fine ranging from Rs 10,000 to Rs 50,000, warns the lawyer. In addition, adds Me Alexandre Le Blanc, the council can clean the abandoned land itself, if the garbage or waste presents a risk of pollution or for human health, animals or surrounding plants. The owner will then be financially liable to the council for clean-up expenses.

In its press release, the Savanne district council also urges owners or people with rights to abandoned, dilapidated, ruined buildings and unmaintained land to maintain them in a clean and aesthetic condition. The press release specifies that this type of infrastructure or property constitutes eyesores under the eleventh schedule of the Environment Protection Act 2002.

“According to the Environment Protection Act, officers of the Environment Department can force owners or occupants of land, buildings or other structures to remove the eyesores found there,” explains Me Alexandre Le Blanc. The definition of eyesores is very broad, he continues. It includes, among other things, “waste of all types, advertising signs that disfigure or affect the surrounding aesthetics or landscape, houses or buildings in ruins or decay, invasive plants or dirt more generally”.
Environmental officers can serve a notice (notice) to the occupier or owner, asking them to fell or remove the eyesore in question. The period granted is two to thirty days from receipt of this notice by the owner or occupant.

And Me Alexandre Le Blanc highlights this nuance: “if the authorities have a legal framework to ensure the general cleanliness of the island, as in many other areas, what is lacking is not the law, but the lack of will and concrete actions on the part of the authorities and organizations concerned. And also, it must be said, many Mauritians who have bad habits, although it seems that the new generation is more concerned about the environment. »

In case of waste

The Local Government Act 2011 and the Environment Protection Act 2002 penalize people who throw waste into streets, gutters and other public places. Thus, owners or occupants who do not comply with the injunctions duly issued by officers of the environment department may be issued with a fixed penalty notice, i.e. a fine of Rs 6,000.

According to the law, offenders also risk criminal prosecution and can incur, in the case of a first conviction, a fine of up to Rs 100,000 and a prison sentence not exceeding two years. In the event of a repeat offense, they risk a fine of Rs 200,000 and up to eight years of imprisonment, says Me Alexandre Le Blanc.

Port-Louis: call to the authorities

Lawyer Alexandre Le Blanc appeals to the authorities concerned to clean up Port-Louis. “Since the heavy rains, the air in the city is not breathable, it is so saturated with dust. There is dried mud on the sidewalks and roads. In addition to being horribly visually unpleasant, it necessarily represents a danger to public health,” he emphasizes. And the lawyer insists: “we have a beautiful island, and a capital which has the potential to also be very beautiful. We have to think about ourselves, but also about the tourists who visit us. It's a shame to let certain places get dirty, when a simple effort would be enough to restore their beauty. »

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