The decision of the government to change the landscape of Agaléga with the setting up of a new landing strip of 3000 meters along with harbour facilities to accommodate ships is definitely a laudable initiative. Today visiting Agaléga is virtually impossible because of transport facilities. But these two accesses, air and sea will definitely open a gate-way to Agaléga where people will be too keen to go and visit that beautiful corner in the Indian Ocean.

If today Agaléga has been neglected, it is because of two underlying factors, namely financial means and accessibility. And this would have continued if the government of India had not stepped in to help. It is obvious that our shaky economy does not allow us to bring a durable and sustainable development to the archipelago. The sea and air corridors are the bases for all developments in the island― an airport where plane can carry passengers and cargo in all safety and security and a seaport for the same purposes.

With these two corridors, Agaléga will definitely take off as a tourist destination. They will be the underpinnings for all developments and the country can be developed into an «éco-touristique» resort for Mauritians and foreigners. With an intelligent and purposeful road network coupled with hotel accommodation and other amenities, Agaléga can emerge as a holiday destination.

This government has understood that it will be branded as a dog in the manger had it turned down the Indian assistance to develop Agaléga. If the island is in a neglected state today, it is because the central government has not been able to pump money into its infrastructure and amenities. If you can’t do it, let others do it for you. Naturally all decisions and conditions will be inextricably bound upwith the sovereignty of Mauritius over the archipelago. For all developments the last say rest with the government of Mauritius. It is absolutely out of question to set up a military base on the island. We are already under the threat of Diego-Garcia with a military base in the Indian Ocean.

All developments on the island should be strictly confined to tourism. «Il faut éviter tout développement sauvage pour garder le cachet naturel de l’archipel.» It is this which will make it magnet for visitors. Besides, the Minister in question, Mahen Jhugroo after his visit to India said «nous veillerons à ce que tout développement sur le plan touristique soit eco-friendly.» It would be sad to see a great mass of unsightly concrete bestraddle the lovely island.

So with these two major developments in Agaléga, the island is all set to become a tourist resort. We can right now start dreaming of a visit to the island.

By Raj Paneken

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