May 21, 2013 News
Tuschen West cattle farmers have risen in defence against Minister of Housing Irfaan Ali, calling him a liar. The farmers are furious that the Minister, on May 3 last, denied meeting with them over the confiscation of cattle land for the purpose of housing development.
The farmers charged that the Minister promised them alternative land to rear their cattle; but to date they are yet to occupy the location. They said that the Minister took their land for Tuschen Housing Scheme Phase Two and after meeting with concerned farmers on several occasions chased them out his office.
Minister Ali through the State’s newspaper said, “I never spoke to anyone. No one came to my office.” He said in the article that the allegations made against him by the head of the Tuschen West Cattle Farmers Association, Deonarine Cheddie, were false, since he never uprooted cattle farmers in Tuschen, East Bank Essequibo.
The farmers, angry at the Minister’s response, said that they were concerned that they might soon be out of business since part of the grazing land was confiscated by the Housing Ministry and the other portion is currently under threat for more housing developments.
The farmers’ representative, The Tuschen West Cattle Farmer’s Association, said that grazing land was handed over by previous Agriculture Ministers, but the Ministry of Housing charged that the original agreement for the farmers to have the land was a mistake.
Association head, Deonarine Cheddie, said that on July 9, 2003, the Tuschen Cattle Farmers Association was registered with 16 members who owned some 250 cows. The farmers had been using the said land to rear their animals and it was late President Cheddi Jagan, who related to late Agriculture Minister Reepu Daman Persaud that he should work towards farmers attaining the land.
Cheddie said they however got no official documentation for the land but on July 11, 2005, the association wrote to former President Bharrat Jagdeo for the granting of the land and Minister Satyadeow Sawh subsequently wrote the association on July 22, 2005 to say, that a successful meeting was held with the farmers and the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission would be visiting the area for an occupational survey. This was done on July 27, 2005 and paid for by the association—the cost was $48,500.
Despite showing the Housing Minister the documents from previous arrangements including the Lands and Surveys document, Cheddie said they were told that “Lands and Surveys made a mistake.’ Three days later the Ministry started bulldozing and scaring off the cows, some of which were never retrieved.
Cheddie said that the farmers were however assured that another plot of land would be made available for them at Zeelugt. To date that has not been fulfilled.
The farmers further charged that the remaining 89 acres of land is too small for the animals to graze and the cows end up on the road or in the Housing Scheme. Farmers then have to pay $8000 to retrieve one cow.
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