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