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Friday 19 April 2019
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Cop, mayor, farmers to be questioned on land acquisition

NALINEE SEELAL

THE Public Service Commission (PSC) has appointed a team to probe alleged misbehaviour in public office by two Commissioners of State Lands and the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture.

The three received their suspension notices on Monday and were sent on leave pending the outcome of the investigation. They are Angela Siew, Paula Drakes and Bhanmati Seecharan.

Sources revealed yesterday that several people are to be interviewed as part of the investigation, including Chaguanas Mayor Gopaul Boodan and other senior officials of the borough corporation and acting DCP Deodat Dulalchan, four farmers from Felicity, the suspended three and others from the Ministry of Agriculture.

On February 2, the Prime Minister received a report on Dulalchan’s acquisition of two acres of land at Chatoorie Street, Felicity. Minister of Agriculture Clarence Rambharat sent him the report and told Newsday then that the land acquisition was questionable. Well placed sources said the same report was made available to the Public Service Commission. This led to the suspensions on Monday.

Sources said the matter could also become a police investigation. On October 4, Deputy COSL Bhanmati Seecharan told Rambharat that in return for “assistance” from acting DCP Dulalchan, Commissioner of State Lands Paula Drakes gave Dulalchan written permission to enter the two-acre parcel of state land in Felicity on September 2, displacing four farmers in the process: Bhola Ramdass, Dindi Tarbanie, Satesh Maraj and Selvin Mahabir.

The letter was signed by Seecharan, acting on the instructions of Drakes. Dulalchan was the man selected by the Police Service Commission for the post of Commissioner of Police. But in the wake of allegations involving the land and other issues in the public domain, the Parliament voted instead to set up a special select committee to investigate the process used by the PSC for his selection.

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