Last update: 12-Dec-2013 4:50 am
Thursday, December 12, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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EMA gives go ahead to uproot mangrove
The Environmental Management Authority (EMA) has given the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure permission to remove 2.4 hectares (5.9 acres) of mangrove near the Mosquito Creek, La Romaine. The portion of mangrove will be removed as the state continues work on the San Fernando to Point Fortin Highway. In a release yesterday, the EMA said the mangrove "falls within the area for the proposed upgrade and development of the Southern Main Road from Paria Suites to St Mary's Junction."
"In keeping with the National Wetlands Policy of T&T, on May 14 the EMA approved the ministry’s Mangrove Rehabilitation Plan where it will be required to rehabilitate an area of same size to compensate for this removal,” the EMA said. “This Mangrove Rehabilitation Plan was approved as part of meeting the requirements of the Certificate of Environmental Clearance (CEC) for this project." It said the authority had instructed that a "statement of commitment" to the plan should be submitted by the ministry within two weeks of the approval.
The EMA said, however, that it would be monitoring the process to ensure that "the conditions outlined in the CEC are adhered to." Contacted yesterday, activist Dr Wayne Kublalsingh said the Highway Re-route Movement (HRM) had no major issues with the EMA decision since it always supported that part of the highway. He added, however, that it was unfortunate that the mangrove had to be removed. Last year, Kublalsingh protested for 21 days over the Debe to Mon Desir leg of the highway. During his protest, Kublalsingh asked Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to conduct a review of that section of the highway.
The Joint Consultative Council (JCC) intervened, along with other civil society groups, to organise an independent review of that leg of the highway. The independent review, headed by Dr James Armstrong, concluded that the State had not properly considered all the issues involved in the Debe to Mon Desir leg. The review recommended, among other things, that a proper social impact assessment be done before a decision is undertaken to continue construction of that leg of the highway.
The conclusion of the report read: “The review committee found that there were significant shortcomings which warranted further interrogation to determine the way forward. “The complex and sensitive issues involved in this project certainly could not be addressed within the confines of this 60-day review period. “Should the Government decide to proceed with the construction of the Debe-Mon Desir segment, the committee is of the considered opinion that shortcomings resulting from the inadequacies of proper assessment of the likely impacts on the human and natural environment must first be determined and resolved.” Works Minister Suruj Rambachan could not be reached for comment yesterday as calls to his cellphone went unanswered.
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