Local March 5, 2013 | 7:58 am

Environment permit stokes Bahia de las Aguilas scandal

Santo Domingo.- Just four days after president Danilo Medina decided to reject an out of court settlement for the Bahia de las Aguilas beachfront, in Pedernales (southwest), the Environment Ministry informed Italian investor Augusto Aldo Meroni that it had approved environmental license for his project Eco del Mar.

The project, as touted on the Web, will be located in La Cueva, less than two kilometers west of Bahia de las Aguilas, and includes the construction of 228 hotel rooms and villas.

"After concluding the review and evaluation of the environmental impact study of the project Eco Mar, Code 6767, the Environment and Natural Resources Ministry has already prepared its environmental license," says the letter "requirement of payment" dated Feb. 25, addressed to Meroni, as project representative.

Environment minister Bautista Rojas also confirmed the approval of the license.

The letter to the investor requiring the completion of payment for the license fee, of RD$1.0 million, of which RD$308, 691 had been advanced to date, also adds that "to retrieve the license you must submit the original payment certificate of the compliance bond, the beneficiary being the Environment Ministry."

Some sectors yesterday questioned the manner in which the permit had been granted.

Environmentalist and attorney Laura Acosta Lora, the State’s representative in the litigation over Bahia de las Aguilas, said she doesn’t understand how a license is issued for a project whose lands have yet to be surveyed.

She said regardless of whether Meroni purchased from the government, and says that section is outside the protected area, it should have the survey and markers, before issuing the license, whereas Rojas, who declined further details, said he has all the necessary documents for the project.

The environmentalist Luis Carvajal, a Santo Domingo State University (UASD), Environmental Commission member, also finds suspicious the way the environmental license was issued.

"Another aspect which draws suspicion is that some people here have been waiting for years to get an environmental permit approved in much simpler matters and less complex areas, and this gentleman (Meroni) presented a project, and despite the technical reports against it, was given a steamrolled permit, hurriedly, indicating that there are extra-environmental reasons beyond the actual discussion of a technical nature. One is inclined to believe that there’s a determination to issue that permit."

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