Where we stand‎ > ‎News & Comment‎ > ‎

WHO CARES ABOUT CONSERVATION? by Ken Howell

posted 23 Feb 2018, 05:24 by Gerry Kangalee
Image result for ema trinidadThe naked corruption, which not even a Procurement Act that is expertly crafted can prevent, stands exposed since the State has already provided an escape route through an organisation known as the Environment Management Authority (EMA).

The EMA has the power to grant Certificates of Environmental Clearance (CEC). What is interesting, but also strange in this case, is the fact that the EMA has designated the Aripo Savannah an Environmentally Sensitive Area. It is deemed a strict scientific reserve. This means that there is a variety of very rare animals, birds, plants, and other life forms existing in that Savannah that must be protected at all costs. The EMA, which was formed in March of 1995 in accordance with Act 3 of that year, signalled the fact that our government had acted in compliance with the United Nation Conference on the Environment and Development 1992.

That Conference dealt with resolution 44/228 of 20 December 1988 and was held in Rio de Janeiro from 3-14 June 1992. It was known as the Earth Summit and also as the Rio Conference. It was in that Conference, the decision to form the Commission on Sustainable Development was taken. The decision to set an agenda, which was called Agenda 21, a global plan of action to promote sustainable development, along with a statement of Forest Principles; a set of principles to underpin the sustainable management of forests worldwide.

Our government by its actions relative to that Savannah is faking ignorance with regards to its obligations under these Conventions of the United Nations.

But who is behind the alleged destruction which the FFOS is seeking to prevent - The Ministry of Works infrastructure and Transportation. Under the leadership of that Ministry a four lane highway is to be constructed along the route where the Train line was once located. This was all part of a major infrastructural development plan unveiled by the PNM for the development of the East West Corridor since in the days of Dr Eric Williams.

It resulted in the development of the Priority Bus Route to Arima, the construction of the Maloney Housing Estate, the La Horquetta Housing Estate, as part of that plan. Since that time, environmental occurrences conspired and created circumstances which influenced decisions of the UN demanding that measures to protect the environment in order to ensure and promote sustainable development, must be taken.

As a result organisations such as the EMA were formed. One would expect that having signed these treaties and having established an organisation such as the EMA, a government would avoid being perceived as not honouring its obligations.

When one is forced to form such a perception, it also leads to questions as to why a government would act in this manner. Could it b
Image result for aripo savannahe that there are vested interests lurking in the shadows who are likely to benefit from the construction of that highway? If that is proven to be the case then we must raise our voices in protest. If voices are not raised in defence of the environment, the destruction of such treasures as the Aripo Savannah will go unnoticed, because the wild life which inhabits these wetlands cannot speak in their defence. But when we speak, we must also be mindful of the possible hidden reasons behind decisions taken to implement infrastructural developments in areas where economic activities are currently absent.

Could it be that influential elements have an interest in lands located in that area or is it another situation in which questions could be raised over the fact influential elements are likely to benefit financially from this project. Perhaps by realising an exorbitant increase in the price of land located along the route where this Highway is likely to pass. It would be interesting to know the elements who have the ears of the government and who as a result might have already purchased lands located along that route.

With such a possibility under consideration, that kind of information would help to explain why the Ministry of Works by application #5070/2017 applied for and received a Certificate of Environmental Clearance (CEC) for the establishment of Phase1 Package2 for the proposed Cumuto to Manzanilla Highway, consisting of one interchange and 300 metres of highway alignment at Cumuto and a nine Kilometre highway alignment with associated infrastructure

One might appear to be wise because of one’s ability to take advantage of opportunities which places financial benefits at one’s disposal. But knowledge tells you that such opportunities are meaningless when it comes at the expense of the opportunities lost because of one’s short sightedness. The short sightedness of the government in this regard betrays the decision to disregard its obligations under the Treaties which it signed

It is the policy of the adherents of neo-liberalism to ignore established rules. It is in their belief system that there must be no rules to hinder their ability to act freely in the pursuit of their fortunes. In small developing countries such as ours these objectives are pursued under the protection of the State. This is achieved through questionable infrastructural development which serves to advance the objectives of the disciples of the capitalist doctrine of neo-liberalism.

We must raise our voices in protest against the destruction of our environment; whether it is against illegal quarrying, the indiscriminate dumping of waste and the destruction of our youths through the sale of illicit drugs which creates an environment of death and the recurring self-destructive consequence and trauma which the families of the victims experience. We cannot and must not continue to sweep these issues under the carpet. History demands that we must take a stand in support and defence of the environment. Let it not be said that we did not care about conservation.

Comments