Months after a private land developer cleared down 64 acres of forest lands on Trestrail Estate for a private project, the community of Granville is now suffering from extensive floods.
With the blockage of five natural watercourses, floodwaters are now coming up to the back of residents’ homes. Over 20 farmers have suffered losses to crops.
When Guardian Media visited the site on Monday, the Balwansingh tributary which flows into the Appang River was totally blocked. The water which had been diverted was unable to flow. Flies and mosquitoes danced in the stagnant water, littered with debris.
Resident Andy Beejadhal said the floods were causing destroying behind his home.
“Behind our house never had water but since they did that project the water has nowhere to flow so it is backing up behind the house,” he added.
Councillor for Cedros Shankar Teelucksingh, who visited the flooded areas on Monday, said the blocking of the watercourses should have been investigated by the Environmental Management Authority. Asked whether the Siparia Regional Corporation planned to move into the property and clear the rivers, Teelucksingh said a team from the Corporation including the engineer, the chief executive officer and the building inspector visited the area on Friday.
“We are writing to the various agencies so they can come in and clear the necessary watercourses and have the developer be responsible for the damages that he has done to the natural watercourses. The Corporation is also writing to the Ministry of Works, the Draining department, Town and Country and also the Ministry of Planning,” Teelucksingh said.
He added, “The EMA has remained silent on this and we need to have some kind of response.”
Teelucksingh also said that vast acreages of vegetation were cleared and the natural springs were compromised.
“We do not have fresh water. Right now we are standing on the aquifer for the Granville and Chatham plant. They are drilling additional wells for the improvement of freshwater supply. There are other outfalls that are affected and we expect the higher end of the village will be flooded out as well,” Teelucksingh said.
Another farmer who requested anonymity said since the project started he lost two lots of ginger, two lots of bodi, sweet potato and pawpaw. He noted that the backup of water from the clogged river was now flowing towards his land causing further damage.
Contacted for comment yesterday, Managing Director of the EMA Hayden Romano said the EMA was aware of the complaints. He said the matter was now under investigation by the Water Resources Agency. Romano said he will issue a further statement.
The EMA had given a Certificate of Environmental Clearance (CEC) 4498/2015 for the development of 64.49 acres of land at Coromandel Road, Granville Beach, Cedros. However, between June and November 2018, the EMA conducted site visits and met with the land developer who advised them that all works had ceased in August 2018 after certain complaints were issued. In January the Guardian following investigations revealed that excavation works had been ongoing from January to March which posed serious risks to the Granville cemetery and the aquifer.
Contacted for comment yesterday, the representative for the developer Anand Gosine said he has mobilized equipment to clear the blocked rivers. Asked whether compensation will be given to the farmers and residents, Gosine said they were engaged in negotiations.