Last update: 19-Dec-2013 7:24 am
Thursday, December 19, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Kublalsingh promises peaceful protest
Environmental activist Dr Wayne Kublalsingh says he will return to the Mon Desir site to engage in peaceful protest immediately after his appearance in the Siparia Magistrates Court today. He also expects to hold demonstrations in Port-of-Spain this week to highlight the plight of hundreds of home-owners who stand to lose their properties as a result of the construction of a contentious highway extension. Kublalsingh was arrested twice last week on charges of obstruction and resisting arrest while he and members of the Highway Re-route Movement attempted to block bulldozers from Brazilian construction company OAS Construtora from working on the Mon Desir section of the Solomon Hochoy Highway extension in south Trinidad.
In a telephone interview yesterday, Kublalsingh, who was released on Saturday on $10,000 bail, said he had agreed to stay away from the site until his court appearance today. “After that we will go back down to the campsite in Mon Desir. We will go back to the site to monitor work there and will do anything that is legal and peaceful to stop work if there are any bulldozers in sight,” he said. OAS Construtora has started soil testing and construction work on the site. Kublalsingh said this was without any permission or compensation agreed upon with residents. “It is private lands and the residents have not given permission to use those lands, but they are invoking what is called Section 4 (Section 4 of the Land Acquisitions Act),” he said. “They have given them four notices. This seems to give them the legal right to acquire land to do the work. “It is a punitive and draconian law which they are using against the residents in the area.”
Kublalsingh said residents were prepared to take whatever peaceful action was necessary to defend their properties and their heritage. He said all this was happening because the Prime Minister remained negligent. “We sat in front of her office for 50 days asking her to abide by the Armstrong report and she did not meet us or reply to us,” he said. The Armstrong report on the Debe to Mon Desir section of the highway was produced by a team of 19 specialists after a hunger strike by Kublalsingh last year. The committee was led by former Independent senator Dr James Armstrong and reported that there were deficiencies in the Environmental Impact Assessment and Certificate of Environment Clearance processes used by the Government. The report also said the cost-benefit analysis fell short of international best practice.
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