Friday, July 5, 2013

Does PNM support illegal squatting on state lands?

PNM's Avinash Singh
The Ministry of Food Production on Friday issued a media release asking if the People's national Movement (PNM) supports illegal squatting on state lands.

The release stated that the PNM candidate for the Chaguanas West Constituency byelection, Avinash Singh, has been illegally occupying lands that were distributed to the ex-Caroni workers. 

It said the Singh family currently occupies approximately 50 acres of a 200-acre block of land designated by the Inter Ministerial Committee for housing purposes.

"Historically, the PNM has had as a policy, both as a party and whilst in government, that they were against squatters and did not support squatting.

"Today (Thursday), Dr Rowley, as opposition leader, publicly supported his Chaguanas West Candidate and indicated that he will support Mr Singh’s illegal occupation of lands that were assigned to the ex-Caroni even if the matter ends up in Court," the release stated.

The ministry said, "Records show that the EMBD has approval for the change of land use for residential purposes and for its CEC. Plans are in train for the Land for the Landless Programme.

"However, there is NO evidence at the County office of farmers applying for these lands as it belongs to the Commissioner of State Lands though assigned for residential purposes. As such, Mr Singh and the many other illegal occupants are squatting in state lands."

It asks: "Does Dr Rowley and his PNM have a NEW policy on squatting and squatters?"

Singh told reporters Thursday he and the other farmers occupying that land have State land status, which is recognised by the Ministry of Food Production and the Commissioner of State Lands and other relevant agencies and that his family had farmed the land for nine years.

However, Housing Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal said Singh is illegally squatting on the land and would be evicted, but denied that it had anything to do with the upcoming by-election. He dismissed charges of victimization and said 100 farmers would have to move from that land.

And he said eviction notices were sent a year ago. 

Rowley told reporters, "He is to be victimised all because he had chosen to offer himself to run for the PNM.” 

He added, "I am putting Dr Moonilal and this Government on notice today (Thursday) that...I will be talking to the lawyers to ensure that if Avinash Singh is victimised in any way we are going to the court, asking the court for an adjudication."

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai