Thursday, December 27, 2007

Garbage grows on Caroni lands


LANDS formerly controlled by Caroni (1975) Limited are now a haven for illegal dumping and unauthorised operations.

Former sugar workers who were awaiting leases for agricultural and housing lands said they were disgusted to see the level of deterioration that had taken place.

Workers said debris was being piled on a roadway to the Brechin Castle sugar factory, off Rivulet Road.

In other instances, there have been reports of bungalows being used to host private functions and lands being shared to private contractors after the closure of Caroni.

Debris was also spotted on lands near Roystonia and at Waterloo Road, Carapichaima, on lands once controlled by the State enterprise.

Sources at Caroni said the former sugar producing entity was no longer responsible for the 75,000 acres of lands which were now under state control.

The source said they had received numerous complaints which had been forwarded to Commissioner of State Lands Stephanie Alexander and the Estate Management Business Development Company headed by Indian national Uthara Rao.

Rudy Indarsingh, head of the All Trinidad Sugar and General Workers, said he, too, had been bombarded with numerous complaints of dumping and squatting on the abandoned cane lands.

Speaking with the Guardian yesterday, Indarsingh said he wanted answers.

He said the EMBD had awarded millions of dollars in contracts to security firms which had failed to secure and protect the State’s resources.

“The EMBD is taking instructions from the political directorate,” Indarsingh said.

“The millions expended by the EMBD in lucrative security contracts under Rao’s tenure have resulted in nothing.

“The lands are not seems that anyone can walk in and do anything on these lands.

“When Caroni folded in 2003, the small farmers who were then planting on strips of lands were chased by the EMBD security and their crops were destroyed.

“Today if you drive through the roads bordering Caroni lands all you can see is garbage strewn everywhere, nothing productive is taking place.”

Indarsingh said Rao had refused to sit and discuss with the ATSGWTU the land distribution process for the former workers. He said the EMBD was not taking on the High Court ruling of Justice Lennox Deyalsingh who ordered that the land should be first given to the ex-employees.

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