Agriculture Minister Clarence Rambarat, centre, walks along Point Pleasant Park, Cunupia on Wednesday. He is contesting the Chaguanas East for the PNM.

Squatters living in Enterprise, Chaguanas will be given tenure for the land they are occupying.

This word comes from Senator Clarence Rambharat, the Agriculture Minister and the PNM’s Candidate for Chaguanas East. He was at the time speaking with Guardian Media on Wednesday when his campaign team rolled into Point Pleasant Park, Cunupia.

Rambharat said the Cabinet agreed to acquire 200 acres of lands on which 1,500 families are squatting in Enterprise. He said the state had been in negotiations with the estate of Bhadase Sagan Maharaj, the owners of the property.

However, negotiations had broken down. He said the next move was the compulsory acquisition. Rambharat said funding would come from the Inter America Development Bank (IADB) to put in infrastructure in the communities after surveys are undertaken.

He said the Chaguanas East community suffers from drainage and garbage collection issues for which he blamed the Chaguanas Borough Corporation.

“Overarching that is the issue of land tenure in Enterprise for example, which is a significant part of the constituency. On the eastern side of Enterprise, you have the long-standing issue to the Bhadase Lands. Lands owned by Bhadase Sagan Maharaj who died in the 1970s, almost 200 acres, you have 1,500 families living there.

On the western side, you have state lands that have been occupied for a while, in the process of being regularised by the Land Settlement Agency. So land tenure is a very critical part of the work that has to be done in this constituency.” Rambharat said the PNM is expected to recapture the Chaguanas East seat from the UNC. The seat was held by the PNM’s Mustapha Abdul Hamid until 2010.

Meanwhile, Chaguanas Mayor Vandana Mohit, who is also the UNC’s Chaguanas East candidate, knocked Rambarat for his comments on the drainage and garbage collection problem. Mohit said regional bodies have been deliberately starved of resources.

Mohit spoke with Guardian Media yesterday when she opened her constituency office at Southern Main Road, Cunupia just north of Hassarath Road. Mohit questioned if Rambharat only became recently aware of the problem. She said “After so long this candidate just realised this. My borough have been working very hard with limited resources and doing our best. I am sure this candidate would be very well aware of that.”

Mohit said she was in this fight to win the seat for the UNC. She said no amount of campaign promises would see the seat reverting to the PNM. Mohit said she was a resident of the community who was fully aware of the needs and wants of Chaguanas East.