PUBLIC Utilities Minister Robert Le Hunte says the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) police who seized pumps from farmers in Aranguez on Saturday acted within their rights.
He was responding to a question yesterday from Opposition senator Wade Mark that, in light of Agriculture Minister Clarence Rambharat’s statement that the farmers from Aranguez were not using drain water to wet their food crops, if the minister can indicate whether WASA would be instructed to return the farmers’ pumps.
Le Hunte said the country is experiencing a water crisis and, in keeping with their responsibilities, WASA police have been increasing vigilance in communities to ensure restrictions are adhered to and the illegal abstraction of water is minimised.
“In one of these routine surveillance work on Saturday May 11 the WASA officials, while executing their duties, seized four pumps from individuals who, based on evidence before them, were breaking the law. Charges have been laid and this matter is now before the court. The pumps were seized as evidence in keeping with routine police practice.”
He said this society is governed by law and it is outside the purview of any minister to instruct or direct police officers.
“This is not the practice of ministers under this Government and it is not one that I intend to start.”
He said his policy position to WASA is to increase the level of vigilance in light of the prevailing dry season.
“The police at WASA are trained to do their job and I expect that they will exercise their responsibility without fear, favour, malice or ill will.”
Mark asked, given the discovery by the Agriculture Minister, whether the WASA police may have erred. Le Hunte replied he noted the observation of his colleague “but we are talking about two different times and it is not for me as the minister to determine whether the WASA police have erred or not, this is for the court to decide.
“Based on the evidence provided, and based on what I have seen from the police report, they are within their rights to do what they’re doing and they are exercising their responsibility.”
Rambharat, on Tuesday, spoke with farmers in Aranguez and told the media he has collected application forms to move forward with abstraction licences.