A Debe community is now in uproar after a land developer tore down a villager’s house on Monday night leaving him homeless.
Shah Mohammed, 57, of Gandhi Village, said he was at work when his mother-in-law Dassie Persad called him saying an excavator was demolishing his home.
Persad said when he got there everything he owned, including his prized record collection, was destroyed.
The excavator knocked over two trees and dumped mounds of dirt on his possessions.
“I want to know how this could happen to me. We have been paying rent for this land. My records were worth more than $500,000. I collecting them for years,” Mohammed said.
His ex-wife Seeta Mohammed said they have been living on the land for over 37 years.
Seeta said in 2014 after she paid rent, the landowner told her that they wanted to survey the property and plot it out so they could purchase it.
“They told us not to pay any more rent until the survey is complete. Then we heard that the land was sold to a contractor,” Seeta said.
She added that the land developer never gave them any notice of eviction.
“It is really unfair and we want justice,” Seeta said.
Community activist Edward Moodie claimed the developer has been acquiring vast acreages of land in the area.
He noted that several reports have been made to the Penal/Debe Regional Corporation.
Moodie said he will seek legal redress and claimed the developer had exacerbated flooding in the area by altering a watercourse.
Contacted for comment, chairman of the Corporation Dr Allen Sammy said the matter is currently being reviewed by the corporation’s technical team. He said a survey done by the corporation showed that the developer had altered the river and this had exacerbated flooding.
“We have written to the developer and we expect him to make the changes. While we welcome business, we wish that people could adhere to the rules. This is in the Oropouche Drainage Basin and this project has caused some problems,” he added. Sammy said he was uncertain whether the developer had applied for a change of land use to construct industrial buildings on the property.
“Due process must be followed. I believe that the lands would been zoned for agricultural use and not commercial use but I don’t know if he applied and got a change in land use. We have served him letters advising that he has to fix the altered watercourse,” Sammy said.
Asked whether the corporation will be taking legal action to stop the continuation of the project if the developer fails to adhere to instructions, Sammy said, “Whatever we have to do legally we will do it. We have 17 matters in court right now.”
Contacted yesterday, Local Government Minister Kazim Hosein said developers should not be making alterations of watercourses.
“We have been fighting all along to make sure that the citizens get the proper approvals before they engage in development. There is an engineering and building department where you can get advice. When people block water courses and the rainy season comes there are floods and people may want to blame the Government when they should be blaming those who do illegal blocking of water courses,” he added.
Calls and messages to a cellphone and landline listed on the land developer’s website were not returned.