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Minister promises stronger EMA to protect environment

Monday, August 13, 2012

Minister in the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources Ramona Ramdial says Saturday’s disaster in western Trinidad begs for a bigger solution. Part of the solution, Ramdial said, involved stronger enforcement and “strict legislation for developers and quarriers.” For the new fiscal year, Ramdial said, the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) would become more equipped and “get more teeth” with respect to environmental policing.


“We are going to increase their work force so we can have better monitoring and evaluation on the ground. These officers will be placed in areas that are most hard hit by environmental concerns.” Ramdial vowed that the Government will go after developers who continue to clear the mountains to build houses.


“We have to stop them. We have to stop the illegal activities on our mountaintops because, this here, is a result of bad practices ... the illegal quarrying, agriculture, development and building of homes.” Ramdial was speaking during a short visit at Rich Plain, Diego Martin, where the body of 67-year-old Solomon Britto  was being freed by members of the protective service and government agencies.


Stating that the Government needed to get serious, and “clamp down on the illegal and negative activities taking place, that will cause natural disasters of flooding and landslides,” Ramdial said she was not surprised by the disaster. “However, I am shocked at the intensity of it. It seems to be getting worse. We have loss of lives now.”


She pointed out that though there were floods in 2010, no lives were lost. “Now we are seeing lives lost and property damaged. It is becoming intensified. As you know, with climate change and global warming we have a lot of rainfall and intensity of climatic patterns. So therefore, we need to treat with these accordingly. Part of the solution is to mitigate and develop a drainage plan.”


Ramdial said the chairman of the Diego Martin Regional Corporation had told her a lot of residents were culpable for certain behaviour in terms of pollution and disposing of garbage in water ways.