THE suspension of three senior officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, plus the start of formal investigations, could see a two-acre plot of land given to Acting Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Deodath Dulalchan being seized and returned to four farmers.
Sources at the Land Management Division said yesterday that based on information received and documents in their possession, the approval of the land appeared to have been fast-tracked and proper procedures not adhered to. Sources also revealed that after Dulalchan was given permission to occupy the plot, the Land Management Division had agreed to secure land in Felicity for the four displaced farmers, but it remained unclear whether any such approval was given.
One of the affected farmers, Selvin Mahabir wrote to Minister of Agriculture Clarence Rambharat saying he occupied the land given to Dulalchan for close to 14 years and hence feels he has a right to continued occupation. Rambharat assigned investigators from his ministry to probe the allegations.
He was given a report, which he sent to the Prime Minister on February 1, saying he had “lost trust” in senior officials of the ministry. Rambharat recommended that the Commissioner of State Lands should be investigated and the Prime Minister consider asking the Public Service Commission to have the commissioner removed from the ministry’s Land Management Division during any investigation that might be undertaken.
Sources said the report was given to the Public Service Commission, which resulted in the suspension of Angela Siew, Paula Drakes and Bhanmati Seecharan on Monday. Investigators have asked several people, including the four displaced farmers – Bhola Ramdass, Dindi Tarbanie, Satesh Maraj and Selvin Mahabir; Dulalchan; the suspended ministry officials; and officials of the Chaguanas Borough Corporation to give information on the case.
Yesterday, Chaguanas Mayor Gopaul Boodan said he had asked for a report on the matter from the corporation’s CEO, Raymond Seepaul.