Corporation to probe backfilling of river

The Pe­nal/Debe Re­gion­al Cor­po­ra­tion has launched an in­ves­ti­ga­tion in­to claims that a busi­ness­man was back­fill­ing a ma­jor wa­ter­course near the Uni­ver­si­ty of the West In­dies cam­pus.

The sit­u­a­tion came days af­ter an­oth­er land de­vel­op­er mowed down the home of Debe res­i­dent Shah Mo­hammed on Tues­day, de­stroy­ing over $500,000 worth of an­tique records.

The lat­est in­ci­dent near the uni­ver­si­ty has cre­at­ed a six feet em­bank­ment at the side of a house owned by Videsh Laldeo and his 84-year-old fa­ther Dan Dass­rath along the M2 Ring Road.

Chair­man of the Pe­nal/Debe Re­gion­al Cor­po­ra­tion Dr Allen Sam­my said the clog­ging of the wa­ter­course, known as Hang­man Riv­er, had been raised as an ur­gent pub­lic mat­ter dur­ing a meet­ing at the cor­po­ra­tion on Thurs­day. Sam­my said they in­struct­ed an of­fi­cer to con­duct an in­ves­ti­ga­tion in­to the mat­ter.

Sam­my said he sus­pect­ed that the works be­ing done by a busi­ness­man who owned a near­by de­vel­op­ment. When con­tact­ed, the busi­ness­man said he was at­tend­ing a fu­ner­al and promised to call back. He did not.

Con­tact for com­ment Min­is­ter of Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Kaz­im Ho­sein said: “no­body should be al­ter­ing nat­ur­al wa­ter­cours­es and I will be send­ing a team to in­ves­ti­gate.”

Dur­ing an in­ter­view, Laldeo said he has been oc­cu­py­ing the lands for 37 years, long be­fore the uni­ver­si­ty cam­pus, the Debe High School and the Fun­splash wa­ter park were con­struct­ed.

“I was not at home and they came and be­gan back­fill­ing. They have al­ready en­croached about 30 feet in­to the lands,” Laldeo added.

He said last year, the land de­vel­op­er back­filled a por­tion of land and clogged up the main wa­ter­course run­ning be­hind his home, leav­ing no ac­cess for the wa­ter to pass.

This re­sult­ed in mas­sive floods in­side his home. Laldeo said last week when he was not at home, the land de­vel­op­er moved in­to the lands again and be­gan back­fill­ing a siz­able por­tion.

“I am very wor­ried be­cause last year I ex­pe­ri­enced flood­ing which was the worst I have ever seen. If the rain falls all of the drainage wa­ter will come flow­ing in­side my home,” Laldeo said.

He said it was com­mon knowl­edge that he had been oc­cu­py­ing the lands since 1982.

Last month, Laldeo and oth­er res­i­dents of Ra­goo Vil­lage sub­mit­ted a pe­ti­tion to the Gov­ern­ment ask­ing that their tenure to oc­cu­py the land be reg­u­larised or that they are re­lo­cat­ed.

Laldeo ques­tioned whether the land de­vel­op­er got per­mis­sion to do back­fill­ing on the M2 Ring Road.

“I have ap­plied for reg­u­lar­i­sa­tion from the Land Set­tle­ment Agency and I was ad­vised that this is re­serve land. How was per­mis­sion grant­ed to him? Who au­tho­rised him to back­fill and clog the drains,” Laldeo asked.

Reporter: Radhica De Silva

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