AGRICULTURE Minister Clarence Rambharat has responded to the planned demolition of sugar mills at Usine Ste Madeleine and Brechin Castle, saying Government is establishing Sevilla House as a sugar museum.
Rambharat was responding to a question in Senate on Tuesday from Opposition Senator Wade Mark, who asked if Government, as part of its policy to preserve and rehabilitate historic buildings, would reconsider its decision to demolish the two former sugar mills.
Rambharat said he had taken note of newspaper stories and a petition that was being circulated on the issue.
"And I believe a lot of it is being driven by a lack of information."
He explained the management of the former Caroni (1975) Ltd's assets was the responsibility of four ministries: Finance, Local Government, Community Development and Agriculture, in terms of the Commissioner of State Lands.
He said in 2003, based on the VSEP for workers, the decision was taken to discontinue work at Brechin Castle, and work ceased on July 3. He reported operations continued at Usine Ste Madeleine and on June 1, 2006 the assets were distributed between the Sugar Manufacturing Company and the Rum Distillers company and then in 2009 a decision was taken to dismantle the factories at Usine Ste Madeleine and Brechin Castle which had been non-operational.
Mark asked if Rambharat could give the assurance that Government would reconsider the decision to demolish the buildings.
Rambharat replied that sugar factories and the preservation of sugar history were two separate matters.
He said Sevilla House, an historic building, had been identified to be converted into a sugar history museum to store the written records and put equipment and other items on display around the grounds.
"So some of the concerns has to do with the preservation of historic buildings. Sevilla House is as historic a building of the sugar industry as we can get. And substantial sums were already spent to preserve that building."
He said in the dismantling of factories there will be things unrelated to the manufacturing of sugar and items that can be put on display.
In fact, the museum was established under the last government.
Minister of National Diversity and Social Integration Rodger Samuel formally opened the Sugar Archives Centre and Sevilla Sugar Museum at the Sugar Heritage Village, Brechin Castle, in August 2015.
The museum was to house artefacts from the Brechin Castle sugar estate such as tools and machinery, parts of transport equipment, and registers of workers on the estate. It was never opened to the public. It was intended to be part of a sugar heritage village.