Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Decision expected tomorrow

Questions over stockpiling at Sando Hill


On hold: The excavated area at the back of Stackhouse building at Pointe-a-Pierre Road, where work taking place at the base of the San Fernando Hill was stopped on Thursday by San Fernando City Police, pending an investigation. —Photo: TREVOR WATSON


A DECISION on the legality of the stockpiling of material at the base of the San Fernando Hill is expected to be made tomorrow during a meeting of the San Fernando City Corporation.

San Fernando Mayor Kazim Hosein said yesterday he has also asked the City Engineer to meet with the owner of Stackhouse Company Ltd, Truman Lochan Dass, over the stock­piling of the material in Marabella.

For over two weeks, loads of gravel have been stockpiled in an empty lot near the Marabella Police Station at the corner of Tarouba Link Road and Pointe-a-Pierre Road.

On Wednesday, the corporation ordered excavation work being done at the foot of the San Fernando Hill be stopped, pending an investigation into whether proper procedures are being followed.

Corporation police visited the site, on the compound of Stackhouse (a wholesale import/export business), and found activities relating to the removal of gravel were taking place in an area cordoned off by galvanised roofing sheets.

Ministry of Energy officials, accompanied by armed police officers, also visited the site at Pointe-a-Pierre Road to assess the work being done and determine whether the owners were acting within the law.

In a media release on Friday, the Ministry of Energy said the illegal quarrying of San Fernando Hill appeared to the excavation works “connected to the development work related to the construction of a commercial property”, and no licence for mining has been granted to anyone or any entity for quarry­ing at that site or in the vicinity of the San Fernando Hill, and it will continue to monitor the situation.

Concerns were raised over the legality of the stockpiling after members of the city council received calls from concerned San Fernando residents that the activity was causing degradation to the San Fernando Hill, a natural landmark in the city, Hosein said.

The city police stopped the owner of the property from engaging in any additional work, pending an investigation.

Hosein said preliminary investigations found permission was granted over four years ago by the then Ministry of Planning, Housing and the Environment for the construction of a three-storey structure that included a basement 15 feet deep.

He said prior to granting approval of the application in March 2009, the corporation requested the intervention of the Ministry of Energy and Energy Resources to monitor the excavation. In June 2009, he said, the Ministry of Energy informed the corporation a mining inspector was assigned to the site.

The city council and the corporation also found the land owner was in violation of the conditions stipulated on a notice dated October 2008.

The notice stated, “That during site preparation that any material to be removed from the site to be stockpiled on the parcel of land located at Williamsville... so that no nuisance is created to the adjoining proper­ties or any user of any nearby roads.”

The stockpiling at Marabella had raised environmental and health issues among the residents, Hosein said.

The San Fernando City Corporation is in the process of notifying Town and Country Planning, the Environmental Management Authority, the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management and other relevant State agencies.