Saturday, December 16, 2017

Five years ago, Kublalsingh stopped eating

Five years ago, environmental activist Dr Wayne Kublalsingh embarked on a hunger strike.

The story of his daily struggles gripped the country.

His motive was to stop the construction of the controversial segment of the multi-million dollar Solomon Hochoy Highway extension to Point Fortin. 

Nevertheless, much as of the highway was built. Families were relocated, and communities torn to make way for the mega project.

Some residents saw it as a good thing for development to their areas, while others held onto the belief that they could not part with their ancestral land.

Five years later, Kublalsingh is still fighting and this time it's to stop the construction of the Debe to Mon Desir segment of the highway.

The new Peoples National Movement administration took over and fired the contractor OAS Construtora, recovering almost one billion dollars which the Government stated will be used for completing segments of the highway.

Kublalsingh held a press conference at the Oilfield Workers Trade Union building in San Fernando on Thursday to call again on the Government to reconsider its position of continuing with this segment.

Kublalsingh  said that the Debe to Mon Desir segment, “constitutes an economic, social, financial and ecological crime against the citizenry of Trinidad and Tobago.”

He said that climate change occurring worldwide is real and the melting of the icecaps and glaciers on the mid and lower slopes of the Andean glaciers are causing the water to flow into the Orinoco Basin, surging into the Columbus Channel and into Trinidad.

He said the establishment of a quarter mile-long embankment along Debe Trace is causing significant flooding and will continue to occur should the aggregate remain. He is calling for the removal of over a million of tons of aggregate, modernising the floodgates, having a hydrological study and the creation of retention ponds. He also said other remedies include the State harvesting rainwater and improvement to the horticulture.

Kublalsingh said he intends to meet with the Minister of Works Rohan Sinanan to get an update on this segment. He said the Minister had given him the assurance that there will be a discussion before any works is conducted along this route.

Kublalaisngh said the hunger strike had a devastating effect on him and negatively impacted his family.

He said: “the hunger strike was very devastating to me and in particularly very devastating to my family. The first hunger strike was to basically get the Government to listen to the hydrology and the benefits analysis and the second hunger strike…turned into a kind of mind blowing assault on that government (and) turned from science to a bad mind kind of thing.”