AKUMAL, Q. Roo — It’s only been open for just over a month, but the Akumal office of the environmental protection agency Profepa has already found irreversible environmental damages that have triggered more than 3.5 million pesos (nearly USD $200,000) in fines.
When it opened last month, Profepa’s Akumal office faced a backlog of 120 allegedly irregular projects in the Akumal-Tulum corridor along Quintana Roo’s coast.
As of Tuesday May 17, the agency had issued closure orders for 11 projects in the region.
One of those fined and ordered closed was the Villas Akumal hotel in the Quintana Roo town of Tulum. Profepa found that the hotel didn’t have the necessary permits to establish or operate such a business, nor to discharge its wastewater into the neighboring mangrove swamps, affecting the marine ecosystem, the beach and plant life.
Nor had the 4,472-square-meter hotel, which has 26 villas and two swimming pools, obtained an environmental impact assessment, which was the reason why Profepa ordered its closure.
A similar conclusion was reached in the case of the construction of Plaza Ukana, whose excavations and a perimeter wall on the foreshore are regarded as a serious crime.
A second project under construction, known as Lote 28, in the Tulsayab zone, was also shut down for illegally removing 1,462 square meters of mangroves. The project also lacked the necessary permits for land-use change.
Profepa said the two projects affected the ecosystems of two varieties of mangrove — red (Rizophora mangle) and white (Laguncularia Racemosa) — and of the Florida thatch palm (Thrinax radiata). The species are considered threatened by Semarnat, the Environmental Secretariat.
The environmental agency reported that those responsible for the damages will be fined up to 50,000 minimum wages, or 3.65 million pesos (USD $198,000). Mitigation and restoration measures will also be ordered.