The ruling New National Party (NNP) government in Grenada has reversed the decision of the former National Democratic Congress (NDC) on banning local sand mining.
The Keith Mitchell-led NNP administration has identified beaches at Galby and Bacolet in the St David’s areas where the removal of sand “in a sustainable manner” would be permitted.
This was disclosed by Minister for Communications, Works, Physical Development, Public Utilities and ICT, Gregory Bowen, during last week’s post-Cabinet press briefing.
The state-run Gravel Concrete and Emulsion Production Corporation is the only body authorized by law for removing beach sand from any area in Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.
Minister Bowen told the media that sand mining will be permitted on these two beaches for “a limited time, watched by the Department of the Environment and other interested parties to ensure that we would depart from the area as soon as the sand level would have reached a certain point”.
In addition, he said that the cleaning of canals in St Patrick’s would result in the sale of accumulated sand by Gravel & Concrete.
According to the Works Minister, government has also received request for the cleaning of the canal close to Victoria Park in Grenville, St Andrew that has become a hazard and a menace for the people in the immediate area.
The senior government minister stated that since government’s made its pronouncement on the sustainable removal of sand, people have been moving into nine areas visited by the Corporation for possible sand removal and is warning those guilty of illegally removing sand to cease and desist from the practice immediately.
“The police will be placed on high alert, signs will be erected in all the areas and perhaps some incentives may be given to the police to ensure we protect the beaches, that no unauthorised sand should be removed and that Gravel and Concrete will be the only entity authorised to remove sand from the two areas and the canals identified”, Bowen said.
The Works Minister announced that one area has been approved by government on the Western side of the country for sand mining.
However, he said the access road to that facility is a financial challenge hence it was not placed on the list of official sites for sand mining.
The Mitchell government re-introduced sand-mining after assuming office following the February 19 General Election in an attempt to fuel the construction sector which it regards as a key plank for building “The New Economy” for Grenadians.
The mining of local beach sand halted in January 2009 under the Congress administration of then Prime Minister, Tillman Thomas.
In 2008, upon assuming the office of Government, the NDC administration due to various pressures including rapid beach erosion and related environmental damages, high cost of construction of sea defense walls and reluctance from international donors to provide financing for these works, the Government was forced to enforce legislation to discontinue this activity.
However the high costs associated with the importation of sand from Guyana to Grenada since 2009 has been seen as one of the challenges facing the construction industry.
Last December, Congress gave Gravel & Concrete permission to remove and sell excess sand buildup in canals, drains and other areas where the material created challenges for property security or environmental concerns.
The areas permitted to remove sand were the security border fencing at the Maurice Bishop International Airport (MBIA), Mt. Rodney Bay canal, St Patrick, Busherie canal, St Patrick, Sauteurs Bay Lagoon, St Patrick and Bathway Lagoon.
The return to beach mining is seen as an initiative by the Mitchell-led government aimed at giving a boost to the local construction industry.