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Excavation resumes at bottom of Sando Hill

By Nikita Braxton-Benjamin

EXCAVATION work has resumed at the business-place located at the foot of San Fernando Hill.

It was last month, after truck-loads of material were removed from the site, the San Fernando City Corporation (SFCC) stopped work pending an investigation into whether proper guidelines were begin followed.

Yesterday, Deputy Mayor Junia Regrello, who is monitoring the operation on behalf of the SFCC, said that owner of the property Truman Lochan Dass had the relevant documents needed to conduct the works.

Regrello said the survey map had been reviewed and a site visit was done with the relevant stakeholders last Wednesday. He said it was found that Dass had been working within the demarcations on the document.

“For the approval to resume work again that is not in our jurisdiction. That is controlled by the Ministry of Energy and he was supposed to consult with (this ministry). Understand right now this is a matter for the Town and Country Planning really (and) the Ministry of Energy. They are the ones who give approval. The corporation will not come into play until we reach construction of the building ... It’s a private property and of course our interest will really be the health of our citizens and the EMA (Environmental Management Authority) guidelines and the heritage site which is the San Fernando hill.”

He said the SFCC will continue to monitor the project.

Dass, the owner of the wholesale, import/export business along Pointe-a-Pierre Road, yesterday told the media that he had been adhering to the stipulations all along.

“We are working closely with the City and the relevant authorities and were working within the guidelines and we were complying with it. We have always been complying ... With support of the Mayor and the City Engineer, with their blessings, we have started back the project,” he yesterday said.

He said that no notices had been served on him or penalties imposed.

The businessman said that previous newspaper stories on the excavation works helped give him free advertising for the supermarket he planned to open.

Regrello said that the material which was taken to Marabella, near the police station, is to be removed to Williamsville this week. Some will also be returned to the site as work continues.

The Deputy Mayor said the material had been piled at Marabella in an “adhoc way” and the SFCC was still awaiting a report from EMA. 

“The EMA has been tardy in their response in guiding us how to deal with it. It is an environmental issue in terms of the health of citizens and we have asked them to guide us,” he said.

Yesterday, drivers complained of the mud that was left on Circular and Pointe-a-Pierre Roads after the trucks were loaded with the gravel.

Both Regrello and Dass said the roadway will be cleaned.

In order for there to be no disruption in traffic flow, work at the site is expected to be done at nighttime and on weekends, Regrello said.

The Deputy Mayor said the Corporation continued to encouraged business in the City of San Fernando.

He thanked the media and members of the public for highlighting this issue.

The facts:

Last April Mayor Kazim Hosein said preliminary investigations found that 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 SFCC 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 that a mining inspector was assigned to the site. Hosein had said that no work had been done at the property over the past two years. 

 
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