A WOODEN house built by the deceased Thakoor Hasmatally in south Oropouche 60 years ago, slowly emerged over the past 16 years into a few concrete structures which today houses a mandir, an ashram, half-way house, conference room, kitchen and a family living quarters on two lots of land.
For the past four years some of these structures have been the subject of query from the Town and Country Planning Division (TCPD).
Hasmatally’s son, Larry, 31, a pundit, established the Shri Nav Durga Kali Ashram, but on January 15, 2016, he received a letter from the the TCPD requesting his survey plan and deed for the property. The letter was based on a correspondence sent to the TCPD from a resident of the area complaining about the establishment of the concrete structures adjoining the temple.
Yesterday, pundit Hasmatally said that he had complied and explained that his temple was established piece meal for the community throughout the years when he used to demolish parts of the dwelling house and replace them with concrete.
He accomplished his mission over the last 16 years.
In March of 2016, he said, Crystal Narine from the TCPD, acting on the resident complaint, visited him. “She told me that nothing was wrong with the structure,” Hasmatally said. And since no fault was found in him building a concrete structure having regard to Narine’s verbal’s expression, Hasmatally admitted yesterday that he did not await a formal reply from the TCPD granting official permission to continue breaking and building.
Worshippers have been using the temple, painted in safron yellow, to conduct services for the past 16 years and many people from the community have been utilising the facilities in the additional concrete structures which the pundit completed four years ago.
A special puja was conducted in 2014 to commemorate its completion. That was when the resident had written the complaint.
When Newsday visited the temple site yesterday, there were three separate concrete structures on the land comprising two lots. A three-storey additional structure is currently under construction. Questioned about that one as well, Hasamatally said, “We are putting up these structures to accommodate the growing congregation. We now have 500 devotees who attend puja.”
It appears that this additional structure is the bone of contention in Hasmatally being sent a letter last week Tuesday from the Ministry of Planning and Development signed by Minister Camille Robinson-Regis.
It stated in part, “Due to the egregious breaches carried out on the site, the honourable minister agreed to enforcement action and the respective enforcement notices were served by registered mail on April 03, 2018. Construction of a structural addition continued unabated despite the issuance of a letter of advice and the refusal of planning permission between 2016 to present.”
Robinson-Regis’ letter orders Hasmatally to demolish the three additional structures on the property.
Asked if he ever received written permission to construct the additional structures, Hasmatally said, “It was refused and denied.”