TOWN and Country Planning Division (TCPD) staff are making it clear it is not their intention to demolish the Shri Nav Durga Kali Ashram (SNDKA) in South Oropouche. Rather, their concern is a three-storey building under construction on the temple site.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Planning and Development and TCPS staff met with devotees of the temple in an attempt to resolve the issues surrounding breaches of reguations on the ashram site. This took place after Fyzabad MP Dr Lackram Bodoe asked for a meeting among members of the temple, Planning Ministry staff and the TCPD.
After discussions, officials agreed TCP would make another site visit to confirm the adjustments to be made so the structure complies with the law. Bodoe told Newsday yesterday he was happy that attempts are being made to resolve the matter to the satisfaction of all stakeholders. Minister of Planning and Development Camille Robinson-Regis agreed to the enforcement and notices were served on April 3, to members of the ashram. Devotees staged a protest on April 12 over what they claimed was Government’s plan to demolish the temple. The enforcement notice is against a three-storey structure which did not exist 40 years ago, as is being claimed by the developers, the ministry said. It also said there is no planning permission for construction of a sub-basement, basement and ground floor. TCPD says the additional structure is being erected without permission from the Planning Ministry. This, officials of the ministry said, was the subject of the enforcement and not the temple. The ashram’s representatives were told the extensions were “illegal and constituted an egregious breach of the Town and Country Planning regulations.”
Spiritual head of the temple, Larry Hasmatally, 31, said the site visit is confirmed for this week. “I am not one to go against the law of the country,” he said. “I simply renovated the structure to accommodate the growing amount of worshippers to the ashram.”
The extensions started two years ago, but the TCPD received a complaint from a member of the public against new development being undertaken on the site since January 16, 2014.