Minister of Planning and Development, Camille Robinson-Regis MP, says land developers whose projects result in destruction of natural habitats and worsening of the flooding situation in the country, could face the long arm of the law.
The Arouca/Maloney MP made the assertion in an official statement released today, concerning the recent flooding in her constituency.
“As Minister of Planning and Development, the Environmental Management Authority and the Town and Country Planning Division under my remit, are investigating a number of land developments being undertaken in various parts of the country, to guarantee that the responsible developers have the obligatory approvals and are meeting the necessary legal requirements,” the Planning Minister stated.
“If it is discovered that none of the above have been met, then all actions available to the Ministry under the law will be implemented to either stop the developments, or to ensure that the proper measures are being undertaken to safeguard the natural environment of Trinidad and Tobago,” she added.
The Minister issued the statement today in response to an Opinion published by the T&T Guardian on September 23, titled: “WASA, floods and development” [https://www.guardian.co.tt/opinion/wasa-floods-and-development-6.2.1216819.1989d21709].
The Arouca/Maloney MP reported that she currently is “working with the Tunapuna/Piarco Regional Corporation (TPRC), the Ministry of Works and Transport and the Self Help Commission with a short term and long term plan aimed at solving the citizens’ flooding woes”.
“Some of the possible solutions being investigated as part of a major flood mitigation plan for the constituency include widening drains and water courses in the constituency, the development of a flood retention plan, raising the physical level of some parts of the road network in the Arouca/Maloney area is also being looked into as preventative action,” the Minister said.
The release goes on to explain that in direct response to the flooding over this past weekend, care packages of food and other essential items were provided for those affected by the flooding. In addition, personnel from the Constituency Officer are assisting affected persons with the application for flood grants.
The Arouca/Maloney MP also recounted that she had mobilized a team—including TPRC Chairman Kwesi Robinson along with their engineering team, Self Help Commission Chair Elroy Julian, MP for Lopinot Bon Air West Marvin Gonzales and an engineering team from the Ministry of Works and Transport—to dredge and clear some of the clogged water courses to apply immediate relief.
“Works and Transport Minister the Hon. Rohan Sinanan also visited the site and a long term plan is being developed with all the entities aforementioned,” Minister Robinson-Regis stated.
The Planning and Development Minister observed that climate change and the associated extreme weather events and increased precipitation also are having an impact on flooding in this country.
“This is in addition to destruction of our terrestrial ecosystems through deforestation and illegal logging, forest fires, and indiscriminate quarrying”, she said, “which are threatening our biodiversity in particular habitats and species, and can also contribute to increased flooding during periods of high rainfall.”
Minister Robinson-Regis is urging citizens to “ensure that they are environmentally responsible in their daily lives”, even as the Ministry continues to fulfil its mandates of environmental management, protection and conservation.
“Protecting the environment must be the responsibility of every member of our national population,” she said.