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Highway review body on Debe section: Govt yet to get all approvals
Head of the Highway Review Committee (HRC) James Armstrong says the Government failed to properly follow instructions from the Town and Country Planning Division (TCPD) regarding construction on sections of the Solomon Hochoy Highway extension project. In a release that sought to set the record straight on Friday, the HRC said planning permission was granted with conditions for the Debe to Mon Desir segment of the highway and revealed not all the conditions were met.
One of the conditions was that approval needed to be obtained from the relevant municipal corporations—Penal/Debe and Siparia. The release from the HRC said as of March 6 of this year, the approval of the relevant regional corporations had not been obtained even though engineering operations had started on the Debe and Siparia Interchanges.
“One of the conditions attached to the planning permission was that the consent of the local authority be obtained prior to the commencement of development in accordance with the requirements of the Municipal Corporation Act (1990),” the release said.
The release quoted the HRC’s report, which said: “A note was included on both notices of Planning Permission that planning permission could be lawfully implemented only if you satisfy the requirements of all other laws applicable to the implementation of the development permitted.”
The HRC said this included the Environmental Management Act, and required that all of the conditions attached to CEC1372/2006 be fulfilled, including the design, layout, scale and components of the development and that it should have been subject to the approval of the relevant authorities, such as the Penal/Debe Regional Corporation and Siparia Regional Corporation.
The release also said the applicant “shall ensure that all final negotiations for the acquisition of all properties, inclusive of private agricultural lands, and compensation to the owners shall be completed before the commencement of any relocation and demolition works.” “The developer would be required to obtain final planning permission and to meet all other statutory requirements for the development before plots of land can legally be transferred to individual owners.”
The release also said that though an application was submitted on March 5, 2007, for the development of land situated between St Mary’s Village, South Oropouche to Mon Desir-Delhi Road, Fyzabad and to Dunlop Roundabout, Point Fortin, for the construction of the extension of the Solomon Hochoy Highway, the permission was also conditioned upon the consent of the local authority.
“The process of obtaining final planning permission is likely to be quite protracted because a CEC would need to be obtained from the EMA before permission can be granted by the Town and Country Planning Division (TCPD),” it said. “Subsequent to the grant of planning permission, the TCPD would require that all infrastructural facilities are completed to the satisfaction of the competent authorities before applications for planning permission to develop individual plots are entertained.”
The Mon Desir section of the Solomon Hochoy Highway extension has been a contentious issue between the Government and some residents who want to see the highway re-routed. In December last year, environmentalist Dr Wayne Kublalsingh, head of the Highway Re-route Movement, went on a 19-day hunger strike in order to get the Government to do a review of it’s decision to build the highway through the community of Mon Desir.
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