Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Villagers plant trees to protest smelter

by Richard Charan
Trinidad Express
May 31, 2006

People protesting the plan to build heavy industries on the La Brea Industrial Estate faced off security guards and bulldozers to plant fruit trees, hardwood, and vegetables around the 500-hectare site yesterday.

The group included people from the villages of Union, Vance, Sobo and Vessigny, and supporters from Port of Spain, Chaguanas and Chatham.

Government has plans to build an aluminium smelter plant on the land in La Brea; and Chatham Village, Cedros, is the proposed site for a smelter plant.

The La Brea estate was once heavily forested but has been graded into a flat and barren block of land.

Many of the residents living close to the estate have been relocated but there is a group of Union Village residents who are protesting their move.

Spokesperson for the group Elijah Gour said the community decided on the tree-planting protest "because the community prefers to have an agro-industry here. It will be more profitable than a smelter".

Gour said the protesters had prepared a plan, part of which was to plant trees in the 100-metre buffer zone surrounding the site.

"We have planted coconuts, cassava, immortelle, sugarcane and poui. We are saying that the agro-industry is something the country needs, and something the Government is not paying attention to. We want to make this viable. It will be an ongoing project."

Residents were initially blocked from entering the site by security guards.

However, Norris Deonarine, a member of the National Food Crop Farmers Association and Rights Action Group (RAG), said:

"We defied them. We were able to show them that they really cannot stop us from going on to the land. We planted over 200 trees today."

He said: "We have proposed an alternative. The agro-industry is bigger than any smelter plant. This country does not have a food security plan.

"We do not even have a policy for agriculture. Our food import bill is US$3.4 billion. Agriculture is a genuine business so we have decided to take direct action."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is truly sad that our leaders are more concerned with the almightly dollar rather than the well-being of our nation's people. It is truly a sad time....I wish Trinis could rally together and stop this.....Disturbed

7:39 PM  

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