Government is committed to allocating lands in Felicity to former Caroni workers and will consider giving lands to squatters for the purposes of agriculture after this exercise was completed, Food Production Minister Devant Maharaj has said.
In a statement in the Senate Tuesday he explained that the Felicity lands were promised to former Caroni workers for developing residential plots but squatters moved onto the lands and started farming.
He said under the People’s National Movement (PNM) administration, former EMBD chairman Noel Garcia negotiated with former president of the Agricultural Society of Trinidad and Tobago (ASTT), Dana Sookoo, that the squatters continue farming with the caveat that the lands are residential lands and must be returned to the Government when needed. This was a verbal agreement, he said.
Maharaj said ex-Caroni workers who are the original beneficiaries of the lands in contention, have already been assigned their lot numbers and were promised these lands since the PNM days.
“In short, Mr president, these ex-Caroni workers have a legitimate expectation; a legitimate expectation that this responsible Government is going keep,” said Maharaj.
Government, he said, has established a working group made up of the Ministry of Lands and Marine Affairs, the Housing Ministry and the Food Production Ministry to explore options for the squatters occupying the lands at Felicity 3.
Maharaj said Government recognises that food production is an important facet to the sustainable development of the economy.
“Once the lands assigned to the ex-Caroni workers have been surveyed and properly assigned, the Ministry of Lands and Marine Affairs is prepared to table as one option the consideration to make the remaining 60 per cent available for farming purposes and a possible relocation site for the squatters now occupying Felicity,” he said.