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Moonilal: Quarrying OK back to EMA next week

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The responsibility for quarrying activities should return to the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) by next week says Housing and Environment Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal. He said so in a text message yesterday in response to a question on quarrying. Moonilal also revealed that a meeting would be held with all stakeholders in the controversy surrounding the Asa Wright Nature Centre.


That meeting would take place with Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine who returned from Panama yesterday. On Monday the centre held a press briefing, highlighting quarrying activities on the ridge facing it. Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine has since ordered that quarrying on the ridge and the immediate reforestation of that area be stopped.


In a telephone interview yesterday, chairman of the centre, Judith Gobin, said though she was pleased Government had halted quarrying on the ridge opposite the centre, the business of quarrying in T&T was not being managed properly. “I am happy Government responded quickly and favourably to the situation,” said Gobin, adding she was completing correspondence to the relevant ministries in an attempt to initiate talks about the issue of quarrying.


Gobin was heartened to hear of Ramnarine’s directive for the National Quarries Company Ltd (NQCL) to reforest the excavated area as well as to immediately stop quarrying. She said officials at the centre had noticed yesterday a cease in activity by machinery. Gobin said the centre would be happy to collaborate with NQCL and assist in reforesting the area.


Meanwhile, she has called for discussion on the issues of hillside development and quarrying, not just in the Arima valley but in other areas in T&T where quarrying was having an impact on the environment. She said the return of quarrying under the jurisdiction of the EMA would just be a start.


Gobin added: “We need the national policy on the sustainability of the Northern Range. “We need the completion of the National Physical Development Plan.” In a meeting with the American Chamber of Commerce of T&T at the Hilton Trinidad and Conference Centre, St Ann’s, last month, Planning Minister Dr Bhoe Tewarie said the Planning and Development Bill would be taken to Parliament in the current session and would deal with the issues related to the Land Use Policy and Physical Development Plan.