Sinanan: Desilting works ahead of rains advanced

En­joy that sun­shine—it’s on­ly one month be­fore the rainy sea­son starts.

And in prepa­ra­tion for that, the Works Min­istry’s de­sil­it­ing pro­gramme on rivers and oth­er wa­ter­cours­es has been on since Jan­u­ary, Works Min­is­ter Ro­han Sinanan said yes­ter­day.

The time­line to the rainy sea­son was con­firmed by the Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Of­fice re­cent­ly when of­fi­cials spoke to the T&T Guardian on the Sa­hara Dust prob­lem.

They point­ed to the up­com­ing rainy sea­son in view of bush fires around T&T and the dam­age which could be caused if wa­ter­cours­es are clogged with bush fire de­bris.

Al­so, con­cerns were raised by some North-South trav­ellers last Sat­ur­day when it was ob­served that the la­goon which runs par­al­lel to the Uri­ah But­ler High­way near the Guaya­mare, was al­most lev­el with the road. Dur­ing last year’s Oc­to­ber floods, canals in that area were re­spon­si­ble for the over­flow on­to the high­way which caused the road to be closed when the Ca­roni Riv­er burst its banks.

Con­tact­ed yes­ter­day, Sinanan said: “The min­istry’s de­silt­ing pro­gramme, which is a mam­moth pro­gramme com­pris­ing 300 projects around T&T, would have start­ed in Jan­u­ary. Work in­cludes clear­ing all ma­jor wa­ter­cours­es, in­clud­ing the Ca­roni Riv­er. Work is al­so be­ing done in ar­eas af­fect­ed by last year’s flood like Green­vale, Aripo and oth­ers.”

How­ev­er, he said he did not have sta­tus specifics at hand.

Sinanan added: “On the wa­ter that was seen in the canal along­side the Uri­ah But­ler High­way, the lev­el there is con­trolled by high tide and when the tide is up the back­flow runs in­to that area. Clear­ing there is al­so an on­go­ing job since the wa­ter brings down lots of lilies.”

Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Min­is­ter Kaz­im Ho­sein added: “We’ve put a plan in place since start of the dry sea­son for the cor­po­ra­tions to use labour re­sources—which re­ceived a lot of funds for wages—to clear drains and rivers.

“Some cor­po­ra­tions which were hard-hit by floods—Rio Claro, San­gre Grande, Pe­nal, Princes Town—be­gan their ac­tion im­me­di­ate­ly. I’m meet­ing with may­ors of all cor­po­ra­tions Fri­day to be up­dat­ed on work.”

How­ev­er, UNC Ca­roni Cen­tral MP Gan­ga Singh, whose con­stituen­cy was one of the worst-hit ar­eas in last year’s flood, dis­put­ed this.

“I’ve been mov­ing around ar­eas mon­i­tor­ing the sit­u­a­tion to see how far work has reached and I re­al­ly haven’t seen the kind of work re­quired to pre­vent ma­jor flood­ing. So far, the sit­u­a­tion looks like an­oth­er dis­as­ter wait­ing to hap­pen,” Singh said

“The Roy­al Haskon­ing Re­port sub­mit­ted to the then gov­ern­ment in 2014 and which was to have been our ma­jor an­ti-flood plan—though gen­er­al elec­tions pre­empt­ed this—made sev­er­al rec­om­men­da­tions on what should be done on the Ca­roni Riv­er Basin.

“But here is the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion with some of those rec­om­men­da­tions: re­ten­tion dams (not hap­pen­ing), dredg­ing/de­silt­ing of Ca­roni Riv­er (not hap­pen­ing), rais­ing the em­bank­ment (not hap­pen­ing).”

Singh added, “I drove through Green­vale last week and the brush-cut­ting and riv­er work that is oc­cur­ring doesn’t give me com­fort as be­ing sig­nif­i­cant. That’s al­so since an­oth­er hous­ing de­vel­op­ment is go­ing up in the area. On­go­ing work isn’t com­men­su­rate with the prob­lem there.

“Two weeks be­fore the rainy sea­son starts, I’ll raise the mat­ter of pre­pared­ness in Par­lia­ment again. Mean­while, we watch the clock and the skies.”

Reporter: Gail Alexander

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