Anna-Lisa Paul and Bobie-Lee Dixon
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Tacarigua residents go to court over multi-sports complex
Tacarigua residents, two sporting clubs and members of The Save Our Green Space Committee (SOGSC) will be challenging the Ministry of Planning and Sustainable Development in the Port-of-Spain High Court on Thursday. This follows a decision to grant permission to the Sports Company of T&T (Sportt) to build the controversial multi-sports complex at the Orange Grove Savannah.
(SOGSC) secretary/public relations officer Dr Carol James said the residents were shown gross disrespect by the various government agencies involved with the project, as permission was granted for the construction of the sporting facility without any consultation with them. She was speaking at a placard demonstration held by residents and savannah users to highlight their plight along the junction of the Orange Grove Road and Priority Bus Route, yesterday.
James said Planning Minister Bhoendradatt Tewarie through the Town & Country Planning department gave approval to the Sportt company for development in the savannah in September 2013 even after the residents’ protests began in July.
She said, “Our legal team felt that it was very gross disrespect to the residents because protest action had already started, it was highly publicised in the media, and yet permission was given without any consultation whatsoever.” “We felt that was really an infringement of people's rights and that we needed to have some measure of respect to the citizens who had raised legitimate issues related to the environment, heritage and very sacred space which also contributes to very low crime in the community.”
James said as Government agencies weren't forthcoming with information pertaining to the sports complex, the group resorted to using the Freedom of Information Act to access WASA documents concerning the quantity of water that was collected in the savannah and related Town & Country Planning documents. She said the approximately 1,500 people who used the savannah daily (with an increase to 1,900 during the Carnival season) will be displaced by Sport Minister Anil Roberts to cater to 200 to 300 elite athletes.
James said right after the court hearing on Thursday, the group will be hoping to hold a placard outside the Hall of Justice, on Knox Street, Port-of-Spain, to announce the latest development.