Indarsingh says Rambharat ‘Out of Place’ To want to Take Back Caroni Lands

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MINISTER of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries Clarence Rambharat is being described as “fast”, “out of place” and showing scant regard for the law regarding agricultural lands belonging to the now defunct Caroni (1975) Limited.

Couva South MP Rudranath Indarsingh said, “The announcement by the minister of agriculture regarding the State’s plan to repossess lands given to ex-Caroni workers  is contentious at the least and rooted in disregard for the legally binding industrial process that made the lands an entitlement of the former workers of Caroni (1975) Limited.”

Speaking at a distribution ceremony of lease letters for agricultural land parcels on Wednesday, Rambharat called on ex-Caroni workers to cultivate the leased two-acre parcels of agricultural land given to them.

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He said if they did not engage in cultivation, the State would reclaim the land for redistribution.

Speaking to the media after the ceremony Rambharat said, “I have asked the EMBD (Estate Management and Business Development Company Limited) and the Commissioner of State lands to take steps. One is a notice which has to be served on everybody to cultivate.

Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries Clarence Rambharat. Photo: T&T Parliament

“For those who cannot do that, the land has to be retaken.”

In a release on Saturday, Indarsingh said, “These lands were the result of a legally-binding arrangement registered in the Industrial Court of Trinidad and Tobago as Number 9 of 2003.

“It was derived after negotiation between Caroni (1975) Ltd and the All Trinidad General Workers Union, which was the majority union representing the workers.”

He said there was a reluctance of a PNM Government under Patrick Manning to award these lands to ex- Caroni workers.

The MP said that government was forced to do so only after an injunction was granted by the Industrial Court to the trade union.

Indarsingh was the head of the All Trinidad General Workers Trade Union that represented the Caroni workers.

He said, “The minister is fast, out of place and exhibiting scant regard for the law and the collective bargaining process.”

Indarsingh questioned whether there was a motive behind Rambharat’s statement “that inferred that the State would seize lands not being farmed by ex-Caroni workers.”

He said, “There are many factors that must be considered in terms of agricultural investment. To date, considerable expanses of such lands lack proper road access, electricity, water and drainage.

“In addition, the economic burdens on existing and potential farmers and businesspersons alike have increased exponentially, since the Minister and his colleagues assumed Government some six years ago.”

Indarsingh said Rambharat continued to make statements “demonizing ex- Caroni (1975) Limited workers” while he seemed to be unbothered about the status and occupancy of farming lands in other places such as in Wallerfield, Chaguaramas and Carlsen Field.

He said, “As a former president general of the All Trinidad General Workers Trade Union and as a former minister in the Ministry of Finance, I condemn the minister’s comments as a legally misdirected attempt to vilify ex-workers of the defunct Caroni (1975) Limited, supposedly in an aim to score political points with the section of the minister’s base which likes to provoke portions of the population that are assumed as being unsupportive of the Minister’s political party.

“This Government continues to make light of the industrial climate in this country, as they attempt to rule by ministerial decree rather than by observing law, order and the supremacy of the collective bargaining process and the Industrial Court.”


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