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Kublalsingh claims victory as finance woes stalls CariSal
Environmental activist Dr Wayne Kublalsingh is claiming victory, after Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine yesterday revealed that CariSal is unable to get financing to construct its $2.7 billion chemical plant at Point Lisas. On Tuesday, Ramnarine, speaking with reporters during a tour of Petrotrin’s exploration and production operations in South Trinidad, said the project is having difficulty with financing.
“The CariSal project is a totally private sector project that is being driven by private sector entities. My understanding of it is there are some issues with regard to financing that those persons who are involved in the project will be dealing with,” he said. Those financial issues, he said, are preventing the start of the project. “What has been keeping back the plant from starting construction are the issues around finances,” he said.
Kublalsingh believes an intervention by local residents was successful in ensuring CariSal did not get financing. The plant was earmarked for construction in the Phoenix Park and Savonetta area. However, residents, backed by Kublalsingh, staged noisy protests expressing their objection to the construction of the chemical plant in their community.
The protesters are part of a group called the Point Lisas East Resource Development Association. It is made up of residents of Phoenix Park, Savonetta Estate and Savonetta Village who are against the construction of the plant, claiming it would be detrimental to their health and the environment.
CariSal Unlimited was founded in 2005 for the construction of the chemical complex that is expected to produce caustic soda, calcium chloride, hydrochloric acid and sodium hypochlorite. In 2009, a Certificate of Clearance was granted by the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) for its construction.
Kublalsingh said the group had written a number of reports on the siting of the plant over the past six months and met with the International Finance Corporation, the World Bank and the Inter American Development Bank (IDB.) “We advised them against the siting of the plant in Point Lisas between the villages of Savonetta Estate and Phoenix Park. It is my view that these meetings succeeded in blocking a $430 million loan to CariSal because of the case we outlined before the banking agencies,” Kublalsingh said.
But Ramnarine said he did not know if residents’ objections had anything to do with the stalled project. “I do not know if those issues are related to the CariSal plant. It has a CEC (Certificate of Environmental Clearance). They have gone through all the steps for that,” he said. Kublalsingh said the People’s Partnership Government should take responsibility for the plant’s failure.
“I put the blame for the failure of CariSal to come to Trinidad totally on this Government, who refused to listen to us when we started to lobby them two years ago to relocate CariSal within the industrial estate or in Point Lisas North, away from the communities,” he said. Kublalsingh said the CariSal plant was another “abject failure of planning by this Government, for they simply refused to genuinely consult and listen to residents.”
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