Another land-grabbing case against Dulalchan

Farmer Satesh Maraj apparently came down with a case of amnesia yesterday when questioned about the situation where he was forced from State land in favour of the man proposed to become this country’s new substantive police commissioner, Deodat Dulalchan.

The House of Representatives will today debate Dulalchan’s nomination for the post of Police Commissioner and Deputy Police Commissioner.

But while Maraj seemed to suffer from memory loss yesterday, three months ago he wrote the Commissioner of State Lands Paula Drakes pleading to get back the land which was taken from him.

On September 2, the Commissioner of State Lands granted Dulalchan permission to lease State land at Chatoorie Street Extension, Felicity, for agricultural purposes.

According to an occupancy report done by the Ministry of Agriculture, Maraj claimed his crops were brush cut by Dulalchan.

In a letter dated October 30, last year Maraj wrote Drakes, about the situation.

Maraj said he had been farming on five acres of land at Chattorie Street, Felicity, for 14 years.

“Around July of this year I was contacted by Inspector of Lands Mr Mohammed, who informed me that half acre of land that I was occupying for the purpose of agriculture, which I had planted a crop of sweet potato, was allocated and given to another person,” Maraj wrote.

“As records will show in the Ministry of Agriculture the land was being planted at this time by me,” he stated.

Maraj said some of his crops were affected by the flooding caused by Tropical Storm Bret last June.

“I will be very thankful and I would appreciate you reallocating me, so I can continue growing crops. The crops that I plant are sweet potato, hot peppers and cassava and presently I am embarking in the process of upgrading to a hydroponic system to produce lettuce and patchoi,” he stated.

“I am formally requesting legal permission to continue to plant crops and to perform other agriculture duties on the said land,” Maraj stated.

Maraj provided his farmer’s badge registration number.

“I am preventing squatters from occupying the land and building illegal structures. I will continue to do that and I am asking permission to continue to grow and cultivate said lands,” he stated.

“I am willing to pay any taxes which may have incurred due to my occupation of the land,” Maraj stated.

A contact number was provided in the letter, along with photocopies of Maraj’s national identification and farmer registration information.

When the T&T Guardian contacted Maraj yesterday though his tuned changed. Maraj said he had no issue.

“I don’t have anything to do with that piece of land. I didn’t have any problem with whoever got land there,” Maraj said.

Dulalchan registered as a farmer with Agriculture Ministry’s County Caroni Extension on October 2, 2017.

This was days after he obtained approval to occupy the State Land.

Farmers Bhola Ramdass, Dindi Tarbanie and Selvin Mahabir were said to be displaced as a result of Dulalchan being granted the State Land at the Bernard Road Food Project.

Source: www.guardian.co.tt (Joel Julien)

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