The personal email address of disgraced former European Commissioner John Dalli appears on the planning development application of Indian tycoon Vijay Kumar Berlia to turn a disused quarry in Gozo’s protected Dwejra coastline into a fully-fledged industrial area.
When The Shift had revealed the application for the extension and development of a quarry in an ecologically sensitive area, Dalli had denied knowing anything about the plans to develop the ODZ area, known as Tal-Qattara.
Sources in Gozo insisted Dalli was frequently seen in the company of the Indian tycoon, in both Malta and Gozo, and insisted that the former Finance Minister was somehow involved in the attempt to transform the massive ODZ land into a new quarry.
Further research carried out by The Shift shows that Berlia, whose family has bought Maltese passports, listed Dalli’s email address in the application in case the Planning Authority wanted any clarifications on his application or to contact him.
This contradicts John Dalli’s statement to The Shift last month that he had absolutely nothing to do with Berlia’s business interests in Malta and that he was “just a friend” of the Dubai-based Indian tycoon.
“I am a friend of Berlia. I am not his consultant. I did not broker any deal for him as he takes his own decisions,” Dalli, 72, still working as a business consultant, had told The Shift.
Dalli insisted that “Berlia had his own architectural, legal and accounting professionals that help him whenever the need arises”.
He said he was introduced to Berlia when he first came to Malta more than three years ago. He insisted that he has no business connections with the Dubai-based chairman of The Svran Group and that he is not involved in his business dealings in Malta.
When The Shift returned to Dalli to explain how his personal email address was on Berlia’s application, Dalli went silent.
The proposed development
In February, The Shift revealed that Berlia, a multi-millionaire who controls a large international conglomerate of companies involved in various business sectors, submitted an application (fronted by architect Alex Bigeni) proposing to extend and develop a small disused quarry on 30,000 square metres of ODZ land that includes a protected area.
This development application immediately raised eyebrows among the Gozitan business community that questioned the interest in a remote part of Gozo.
Berlia had acquired the land, which includes a decades-old small, abandoned quarry from Teddy and Nenu Grima, known as ‘Tal-Giegu’. It is not yet known what Berlia paid the Grimas for the land and whether an intermediary was involved.
So far, the application has only reached its screening process and has not been put up for public consultation. The Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) has already shot down the application declaring, in no unequivocal terms, that it’s an unacceptable development.
Yet Berlia’s architect, Alex Bigeni, who also happens to be related to the Gozo Minister and is the main architect used by developer Joseph Portelli, is insisting that the application continues its full process.
The San Lawrenz local council and a number of environmental organisations have already declared their opposition to this proposal.