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THA going to court over sacking of 100 workers
The Tobago House of Assembly (THA) is planning to file a lawsuit against the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources. Chief Secretary of the THA Orville London made the statement during a THA media conference.
London said the assembly would apply for an administrative order requesting the court to decide whether the THA’s rights were infringed when the services of 100 people from the National Reforestation and Watershed Rehabilitation Programme (NRWR) were terminated with effect from August 17, 2012. Three community-based groups previously ran NRWRP.
“In the first place we are challenging the decision or the continuing decision of the ministry to interfere in the management and or implementation of the National Reforestation and Watershed Rehabilitation Programme in Tobago by terminating the services of community groups which were contracted in Argyle, Speyside and Belle Garden and replacing them with their own officials,” London said.
The programme was established in 2003 with a mandate to increase the rate of forest regeneration with an aim to mitigate the deterioration of the environment. Traditionally the NRWRP worked through community groups to meet the needs to repair, preserve and protect the nation's forests, watersheds, wetlands, flora and fauna.
London said under the Fifth Schedule of the THA Act No 40 of 1996 the assembly was responsible for state lands, forestry and the environment and therefore felt there was a need to enforce its authority and not allow unauthorised persons to carry out any activity in the forest.
He also noted that the assembly would be seeking redress in the courts because of the ministry’s rejection of the THA’s proposal for funding from the Green Fund.
He added: “Secondly in a related issue we are challenging the decision where the Green Fund Execution Unit of the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources for funding from the Green Fund, where they were claiming that they could not treat with the assembly’s request because in their opinion the assembly’s request was not in sync with the National programme in relation to reforestation when in fact it is the THA which is responsible for setting up and implementing its own programme in Tobago.
London said he hoped the issue could be resolved in the coming weeks.
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