Story by SHASTRI BOODAN
Squatters living in the Chaguanas East constituency of Enterprise are expected to get tenure for the land they are occupying.
The promise comes from Senator Clarence Rambharat, Agriculture Minister and the PNM’s Candidate for Chaguanas East. He was, at the time, speaking with Guardian Media on Wednesday, when his campaign bandwagon rolled into Point Pleasant Park, Cunupia.
LAND TENURE IMPORTANT—RAMBHARAT
Rambharat said Cabinet has agreed to acquire some 200 acres of land in Enterprise, on which 1,500 families currently are squatting. He said the State had been in negotiations with the estate of Bhadase Sagan Maharaj, owner of the property, but those negotiations had broken down.
The agriculture minister told Guardian Media that the next move was compulsory acquisition and the funding would come from the IADB to put in infrastructure in those communities after surveys were undertaken.
PNM Chaguanas East candidate, Agriculture Minister Senator Clarence Rambarat (left), speaks with a resident during his canvassing in Point Pleasant Park, Cunupia, on Wednesday. (Image: SHASTRI BOODAN)
The PNM candidate also noted that Chaguanas East suffers from poor drainage and garbage collection issues, for which he blamed the Chaguanas Borough Corporation.
“The overarching issue is that of land tenure in Enterprise, for example, which is a significant part of the constituency,” he explained. “On the eastern side of Enterprise you have the long standing issue of the lands owned by Bhadase Sagan Maharaj who died in the 1970’s. It’s almost 200 acres, and you have 1,500 families living there. On the western side,” Senator Rambharat said, “you have state lands that have been occupied for a while, and which are in the process of being regularized by the Land Settlement Agency. So land tenure is a very critical part of the work that has to be done in this constituency,” he added.
Senator Rambharat said he has been doing work with the LSA on the land tenure issue.
“We have made significant progress on the Bhadase Lands, and we will also be making some announcements soon concerning that.”
The PNM candidate is confident the party will recapture the Chaguanas East seat from the UNC. The seat was held by the PNM’s Mustapha Abdul Hamid until 2010.
MOHIT SLAMS RAMBARAT
Meanwhile, Chaguanas Mayor Vandana Mohit, who is also the UNC’s Chaguanas East candidate, knocked Senator Rambharat for his comments on the poor drainage and garbage collection problem in the constituency.
Mayor Mohit said regional bodies have been deliberately starved of resources by the Central Government.
She spoke with Guardian Media on Wednesday, at the opening of her Constituency Offices at Southern Main Road, Cunupia, just north of Hassarath Road.
The UNC candidate questioned whether her PNM counterpart only recently had become aware of the problem.
“After so long, this candidate just realized this,” she stated. “My Borough has been working very hard with limited resources and doing our best. I am sure this candidate would be very well aware of that.”
UNC Chaguanas East candidate, Chaguanas Mayor Vandana Mohit, at the opening of her campaign offices at Cunupia, on Wednesday. (Image: SHASTRI BOODAN)
Mayor Mohit said she was in the election fight to win the seat for the UNC, and that no amount of campaign promises would see the seat reverting to the PNM.
She pointed out that she was a resident of the community who was fully aware of the needs of Chaguanas East.
During her speech at her campaign headquarters, the UNC candidate praised all her supporters who assisted in her political career.
“From the age of 16, through all my victories to the age of 29, as a small person, no one ever looked at me as a little girl. They always said to me—you always said to me—the little girl with the Lioness voice; the voice spoke for you.”
The UNC candidate told Guardian Media that the opening of her constituency offices was very emotional and a happy day for her.