Couva South Member of Parliament Rudranath Indarsingh is calling on the Agriculture Minister Clarence Rambharat to launch an immediate enquiry to ascertain why the Estate Management and Business Development Company (EMBD) is surveying the lands on Dairy Road in Windsor Park, California.
Indarsingh, in a written communication to Rambharat, indicated that residents of this area had approach him as their Parliament Representative asking why is the EMBD pursuing this exercise at this time since there have been no consultation from the relevant State agencies in relation to this impending survey. The residents told Indarsingh they were handed Notices of Survey indicating the EMBD will begin surveying their area Wednesday March 14 2018 for the purpose of redefining the lands and demarcating boundary corners.
In his release, MP Indarsingh said he was upset that EMBD officials have been accompanied by the a large contingent of heavily armed officers attached to private security firm and all have been using intimidating language of bulldozing and demolition of homes if people do not comply.
“Why this heavy-handed approach? These residents are law-abiding and peaceful citizens who are now traumatized; they cannot function properly and school children cannot study properly because the future of their homes are up in the air.”
In November 2017, the residents retained Attorney-at-Law Gerald Ramdeen who had also written to Rambharat on the matter.
Ramdeen had indicated to Rambharat that officials from the Commissioner of State Lands had been in contact with residents with respect to proposed actions of the Commissioner to reclaim lands in the area.
In his letter, Ramdeen indicated there was a dispute to title since some of the lands in the area seem to have been vested in what was formerly Caroni (1975) Limited and some are State lands and there is no clear delineation of where the respective boundaries lie. This of course has legal consequences, as lands vested in former Caroni (1975) Limited would be subject to different statutory period for extinguishment of title than State lands.
Ramdeen told Rambharat that without this being resolved, it is unthinkable that the Commissioner will embark upon such an exercise.
He further alluded to the issue of possession by occupiers of the lands. There are a number of persons who are presently in possession of lands where their possession has been as a result of successive interests of their predecessors in occupation being merged into their present possession.
Ramdeen said the law as presently stands only requires that a person in possession have the animus to possess coupled with factual possession.
Ramdeen further said that before any action could lawfully be taken by the Commissioner, it would be in the interest of all parties affected to resolve these two issues. Failure to do so would only create a risk that either party, but at this stage clearly more the resident, could suffer irreparable loss and damage that cannot be compensated by an award of damages.
He pointed out one instance whereby resident Gillian Bayne’s electricity connection was disconnected this week under the threat of demolition while she was in the hospital in labor. Ramdeen further thanked the Minister and MP Indarsingh for securing the reconnection of her electricity supply otherwise she and her baby would have met darkness upon returning to her home.
Attorney Ramdeen requested Minister Rambharat to exercise his Ministerial powers and direct the Commissioner to cease all actions in attempting to seek to reclaim possession of lands in the Windsor Park area which include the disconnection of electricity, surveying lands and trespassing and entering upon the lands in the possession of residents.
He asked for an urgent meeting with Rambharat and MP Indarsingh to discuss a way forward which will be in the interest of all involved and in the public interest.
The Attorney assured the Minister that he will not commence any actions in High Court, on behalf of any resident, seeking injunctive relief as he considers that this matter ought properly to be resolved by mature consultation between the parties affected by the proposed actions.