ENVIRONMENTALIST Dr Wayne Kublalsingh yesterday presented, from the public gallery in the San Fernando High Court, a lawsuit for judicial review of a pending decision by the Environmental Management Authority (EMA).
Kublalsingh told Justice Robin Mohammed that soon he will have a battery of attorneys to represent him against the EMA’s considering granting a certificate of environmental clearance to the Housing Development Corporation (HDC). The HDC is seeking to construct 500 multi-family units on lands known as the St Joseph Farm in Curepe.
Attorney Jenelle Partap represented the EMA and announced that external counsel is being sought to challenge Kublalsingh. The land comprises 17.4 acres and contains the St Augustine nursery. Established by the British in the 1930s as part of the former Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture, the nursery is home to numerous varieties of tropical plants and is used for agricultural studies.
Kublalsingh, together with president of the TT Farmers Association Shiraz Khan, is seeking judicial review of the EMA’s failure to consider the impact of such a housing project on the aquifer. An aquifer is an underground layer of water-bearing permeable rock, such as gravel, sand or silt, from which ground water can be extracted via a well.
The first page of a lawsuit filed in the High Court bears the claimant’s and respondent’s names, and names of the filing and advocate attorneys. Because Kublalsingh and Khan filed the lawsuit on their own behalf, the document says, “The claimants are acting in their own capacity and their address for service is at No 22, Prince of Wales Street, San Fernando.”
Attorney Prakash Ramadhar, who accompanied Kublalsingh, said he did so in his capacity as MP for St Augustine and from love for the environment. Kublalsingh told Mohammed he represents himself and Khan, and until he retains attorneys, will be arguing the case on their behalf.
The judge asked if he drafted the documents himself and he said yes, though he was assisted by his sister, attorney Judy Kublalsingh. “I feel very happy as an ordinary citizen presenting a case before the court. I feel like a lawyer. I went to the various people and got information for the affidavits. I wrote out the grounds,” Kublalsingh said.
In commending Kublalsingh before ordering him to file and serve further affidavits by January 15, Mohammed said, “I must say you did pretty well.” The EMA’s response, the judge ordered, must be filed by January 28 and Kublalsingh is to respond by February 11. The judge fixed the hearing for January 14 in San Fernando.