Bharath, who is acting Minister of Works and Transport in the absence of Jack Warner, who is currently out of the country, was speaking with members of the media following a PTSC Recognition ceremony, where 334 part-time bus drivers were confirmed to full time drivers, with the description to work eight-hours together with benefits, terms and conditions.
In a newspaper report yesterday (not Sunday Newsday), Managing Director of the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) Jearlean John was quoted as saying, “Farmers are using the support of the public and persons who do not have the facts to make inflated claims for crops destroyed when the HDC bulldozed lands on Easter Sunday.”
Farmers had claimed that over 100 acres of crops were destroyed at both locations. However, John claimed that the HDC did an aerial assessment of the two sites and determined that only some 25 acres were bulldozed.
Bharath yesterday clearly said that no assessment has been done yet and announced that a team of officers are expected to go out on the sites today to “see what level of compensation should be at and how many acres have been destroyed.”
“Our officers have not gone out yet to see what the level of compensation should be at. They will go out tomorrow (today) together with the farmers. It is premature that some of the media reporters should report that farmers are claiming inflated compensation where they have made no such demands,” Bharath said.
He then stated that, if the report of John’s statement was accurate, it was regrettable for such a comment. Bharath yesterday reassured that he was going to give an immediate update on the issue to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, who was expected back from her trip to Brazil last night.
“The Government has to articulate a policy for those issues. Cabinet and the Government has to make decisions to the use of lands, with respect to housing and agriculture. My position obviously this evening (last night) is to give an update to Mrs Persad-Bissessar. It is not about one party winning and the other losing but working it out to the best way forward and how we can develop it in the best way,” Bharath said.
On the issue of the incident which occurred earlier this year where farmers at La Pastora Village, Lopinot were attacked by persons claiming that the lands were theirs, Bharath yesterday revealed that the “real owner” of the lands is deceased and that the matter was now in the “hands of the police”.
“A search was done on the land and it was revealed that the real owner is deceased and the people who are claiming that the lands are theirs are not theirs. We have now passed on that issue to the police and army. It has now become a police matter. We have informed the Ministry of National Security and the Tunapuna Police Station and it is up to them to manage law and order,’ Bharath said.