State Lands Commissioner upset over backfilling in La Romaine
By Narissa Fraser
February 06, 2021
COMMISSIONER of State Lands Bhanmati Seecharan is upset and plans to take swift action over illegal backfilling in La Romaine, which is continuing despite several warnings.
Residents of Alan Lucky Street, La Romaine contacted Newsday about the issue, which they claim has been going on for at least three years.
They claim the owner of a nearby hardware store has backfilled over 20 acres of what used to be a seaside area.
When Newsday visited, Seecharan and officials from the EMA (Environmental Management Authority) were making a site visit.
There was debris in the sea, including old tyres, sheets of galvanise and pieces of steel. Because of this, residents say, fishermen have had to find somewhere else to use. The debris would regularly damage their boats and nets and even injured some fishermen.
What was once a road leading to the sea is now a dirt cliff and the recreation ground used by students of St Benedict’s College is now caving in, though the businessman tried to build a retaining wall upon realising this.
One resident said, “He said he knows people and nobody could do him anything and that this will be his private land in the future.
“I didn’t have any problems with him, but you see when he started throwing rubbish into the ocean and blocking off the residents…Some people are just selfish. I am sorry for poor people in this country.”
When Newsday began taking photos and videos of the tractors working in the area, the workers stopped and left.
EMA regional co-ordinator Steve Lalbeharry told Newsday the EMA had received reports and was investigating and any further information would have to be provided by its corporate communications unit.
Seecharan told Newsday the State Lands department
has written to the hardware owner many times and sent several cease-and-desist warnings.
“What we realised is, he is just not taking this on, and is continuing. So we got together with the legal team and decided we will come down and literally start a process of legal action against him.”
Asked if it is common for people to continue such activities even after being warned, she said, “In most cases, people tend to take their hands off, but apparently in this incident, the gentleman is continuing no matter what.”
Given the extent of the backfill, residents suggested building a play park for children in the area once the issue is sorted out.
One said, “It had a bay here, and it was so nice and residents would use it. In fact, at one point my kids would come down and use it also.”
When Newsday called the business, the person who answered said the owner is “not accepting calls right now.”