Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Environment suffering: govt not living up to manifesto

This is an open letter to the Prime Minister, Kamla Persad Bissessar, her Cabinet and to all our citizens.

Potable water, food security and human health are critical to our survival.

Every election you come to us with fresh promises, forgetting manifesto promises of the past. Little by little, you are turning friends into foes. Remember, one way of serving the people is to act in good faith and live up to one’s election manifesto, which states:

1. “Areas requiring protection for environmental or ecological reasons will be clearly designated.” What areas have been designated?... Instead, and against the advice of the Water Resources Agency, your Government has granted dozens of new quarry approvals in sensitive watershed/aquifer areas on the Northern Range without any Environment Impact Assessment, which has vali­dated the sneaky People’s National Movement removal of quarries from the legislated Certificate of Environment Clearance (CEC) regime of the Environmental Management Authority.

Now your Government is promoting man-made desalinated water (with new privatised facilities recently opened in Point Fortin) instead of preserving our Northern Range. Did the late Prof Julian Kenny die in vain?

2. “We will introduce the Planning and Development of Land Bill (PDLB)”. Where is the Planning and Development of Land Bill? In the meantime, mayhem passes as normal while poor building practices endanger human life.

3. “We shall effectively utilise the Green Fund for the restoration of areas that have been damaged by poor and dangerous practices of development and to strengthen community-based environmental projects.” Madame, please tell us which areas have been restored to date, by whom and at what cost?

4. “We shall... immediately lay in Parliament the Draft Air Pollution Rules and the Draft Solid and Hazardous Waste Rules which are mandatory requirements of the Environmental Management Act.” Prime Minister, “immediate” means occurring or done at once, instantly. Where are these Rules? Shame, shame, shame!

5. “We will develop and implement an integrated coastal zone management strategy, which requires a syner­gy between Government agencies and coastal community stakeholders for protecting, restoring, enhancing and developing our coastal and marine resources, in a sustainable manner. The National Environmental Policy (NEP) would be reviewed to provide for no loss of mangroves.” Madame, where is the coastal zone management strategy? What is being done in this area? Nothing? Meanwhile, MovieTowne and others are being given more lands in the back of MovieTowne to remove more mangrove. Where has the inte­grity gone?

6. “We will provide incentives to develop a recycling industry, thereby crea­ting employment and encouraging entrepreneurship, starting immediately with the Beverage Container Bill, which has already been prepared by the EMA.” Madame, to date the Beve­rage Container Bill is growing fungus in some corner, and there are still no known incentives for recycling. A great opportunity is being lost because of you.

7. “We will establish parks and other initiatives to encourage community and family wellness. Furthermore, we will set up a National Parks and Recreation Authority for the purpose of conserving, protecting and maintaining environmentally sensitive areas”. Madame, do taxpayers need another bureaucracy? The Environmental Management Authority is already terribly deficient so, Madame, instead of adding another similar organisation, why not just fix the rudderless one we have?

So many promises are becoming nightmares, while our patience tires. Instead, we have suffered from continued seismic bombings of our beloved ocean without the safeguards of the legislated Environment Impact Assessments, and you appear undisturbed!

We appeal to you to take the lead in honouring your stated promises first so that good public administration is begun. After all, “promises are the very essence of good faith”, and bad faith must not be respected.

Terrence Beddoe, president

Gary Aboud, secretary

Fishermen and Friends of the Sea