PORT OF SPAIN — After 21 days without food and water, environmental activist Dr Wayne Kublalsingh ended his hunger strike yesterday.
Kublalsingh, who was protesting the Debe to Mon Desir section of the Point Fortin Highway, said he agreed to the terms of reference hammered out after a two-day mediation meeting between the Joint Consultative Council and the government.
Just before 6 p.m., the Kublalsingh family announced the activist had accepted the changes to the initial proposal and had ended the hunger strike.
In a media release, Kublalsingh said the Highway Re-Route Movement read the details of the proposal and found that it contained the relevant particulars they had requested, including the undertaking of a cost-benefit analysis of the proposed Debe to Mon Desir section of the highway, a social impact assessment and a hydrological, terrestrial and marine ecological report of the affected area.
“If I am to put into words how I feel now, it would be that I feel an enormous gratitude to the people of Trinidad and Tobago,” Kublalsingh said in brief telephone interview.
The newly detailed terms of reference that the parties agreed to are not too different from Kublalsingh’s initial proposal and request that was sent to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar weeks ago.
The one bone of contention remained over whether work would continue on the now contentious segment of the highway during the two months the independent committee would need to undertake its own review.
“No work shall be done on the proposed Debe to Mon Desir highway since this has not been officially handed over to the contractors,” said Kublalsingh.
In an addendum to his statement, he said the National Infrastructure Development Company Ltd told the review committee that “preliminary works will be done on the Fyzabad and Siparia exchanges, but that no compulsory acquisitions will take place and no homes removed during the period of the review”.
“We have spoken to Dr. Carson Charles (head of Nidco), asking him to respect the sensitivities of people in the area, and we are satisfied that no home acquisitions would take place in period. They will also confine their works to earth removal and grubbing,” Kublalsingh said.
The independent committee will also accept submissions from the Highway Re-Route Movement and affected residents and take those into consideration as well. This was part of the Kublalsingh’s original proposal but was not included in the initial draft proposal between the Government and JCC after their meeting on Monday. (Express)