Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The vindication of Dr Kublalsingh

 Do we as a society now continue to deny the validity and relevance of Dr Wayne Kublalsingh and what he stands for? He continues to be vindicated  by the courts and now by the forces of nature with the latest flooding in the very areas he deemed vulnerable.

The court recently upheld his argument that the Government should implement the findings of the Armstrong Committee, which it continues to defy, and carry on business as usual. 

From the beginning of his protests, his concerns were for the implementation of the recommendations of the Armstrong Committee, with respect to proper hydrological studies being done, to minimise the negative impacts on the ecology of the area, which includes flooding and loss of ancestral homes by some residents. 

He was also concerned that the natural drainage pattern of the general area not be interrupted.

Now the rains have come, flooding areas that were never flooded before, under five feet of water. To me, his fears were justified and the country should take heed and listen to what he is saying. 

Dr Kublalsingh’s proposal to re-route the highway would have saved the country $100 million. But we all know the Government is not interested in saving money. 

In fact it prefers to give away money for free by awarding contracts, and paying off on them without any work being done.

Some residents have confirmed that some of the water courses were blocked due to highway construction. One top official of the Penal-Debe Corporation blamed some businessmen of the area, saying they did not adhere to strict drainage regulations by using undersized cylinders. 

He also threatened to rip them out when they are identified. This would not go down well with these businessmen. Is this another case of heavy-handedness or another case of using a scapegoat in defence of the negligence of the corporation or by extension defence of the Government?

It is now clear the water courses have to be cleaned and kept clear to prevent future flooding. We hope the continuing highway construction would not create lifeless and mosquito infested lagoons, but would allow nature to take its course, and to some extent preserve the ecology of these wetlands.

The idea of the Government opening up the interior of Penal, Fyzabad and Siparia  to the highway is a good and commendable one, but what if the price becomes too high in the long run? Can we guarantee that the new highway would not be flooded and that commuters would not be stranded in a bigger way? I guess we will have to wait and see if the negatives outweigh the positives or vice versa, when the highway is completed, but yet there are those in the frontline who are poised to pay a higher price than most, in the name of “progress”.

Joel Quintal 

San Fernando