Environmentalist Gary Aboud is calling on the Minister of Energy Nicole Olivierre and Minister of Works Fitzgerald Hinds to explain why they accepted lifetime membership from the Quarry Association of T&T, a group which forms part of a sector which has been poorly regulated by the Government.
Asking whether there was a potential conflict of interest in accepting lifetime memberships to the association, Aboud complained that the State had failed to properly regulate the destruction of the environment by a number of illegal quarries operating around the country.
"Earlier this year, the Quarry Association presented Lifetime Membership Certificates to former prime ministers, the Right Hon Patrick Manning and Basdeo Panday, the current Minister of Energy and Energy Industries, the Hon Nicole Olivierre, and current Minister of Works and Transport, the Hon Fitzgerald Hinds.
"This is an obvious conflict of interest. Due process of law is compromised when the recipients of 'lifetime membership' awards are the regulators themselves," Aboud said.
Destruction of Cumaca
Aboud's comments came as he highlighted what he described as the destruction of the environment and particularly the watersheds in the village of Cumaca in Valencia.
He said the quarry operator had modified the course of the Turure River and the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) and the Ministry of Energy (MoE) had done nothing to stop it.
Aboud, who is the corporate secretary of environmental group Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS), said the group was calling on Olivierre and Hinds and the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) to investigate the "continued destructive and illegal action openly taking place on this site daily."
He said the quality of water to WASA's Cumaca intake was compromised due to siltation and the potable water security was jeopardized.
"The constant flow of heavy machinery and the irresponsible method of excavation below the road have compromised the integrity of the public access road. Millions of public funds will need to be spent to repair the damage which this quarry is causing to the roads, but no amount of money can repair a potable water aquifer," Aboud said.
"This conduct presents an opportunity for Government to set an example for all. Unless the Rule of Law is applied without fear or favour, our beloved country will continue its slide into muddy waters.
"Unless Minister Olivierre prosecutes this unlawful conduct with the prescribed fine and imprisonment, and until the damage is assessed and repaired at the developer's cost, her Government risks becoming known as a Government which has been bought and sold."
He said if the problem was not addressed it would send a signal that the law only applied when it came to "prosecuting the poor man."
Neither Hinds nor Olivierre answered calls from the Sunday Guardian.