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Decade long wait for NGC land deal
Almost 11 years after the National Gas Company (NGC) moved onto their lands to lay 56” lines during its cross-island pipeline project, a San Francique couple is threatening to sue the company and the State for lack of compensation.
As a result of the gas line, Ramish and Kaloutie Rampersad’s daughter had to purchase land elsewhere to shelter her family as nothing could be built on or within 20 metres of the lines.
They also cannot plant any vegetation on the land, although they have a deed to prove ownership. The couple told the T&T Guardian yesterday that since the work ended in 2006, they have been getting the runaround by several State bodies with respect to payment for three parcels of land near their Pluck Road home.
In the coming weeks, Ramish, a retired police officer, plans to erect a fence around the land, preventing access to NGC.
“I think they are trying their best not to pay us for the land. An evaluator told me that the Government could decide that they would pay us $1 for my land but we will take them to court. NGC workers came on Wednesday, so I walked up the hill and enquired what they were doing. They said they were there to put down markers. I told them that NGC had not paid me for my land and I did not want anyone entering my land from today. I have a deed to prove that this is my land,” Ramish said.
Providing documents, the couple said they first entered into a $4,000 rental arrangement with NGC in 2004 to facilitate the project. When the work was finished two years later, they received a letter from the then Ministry of Land and Marine Affairs stating that the lands was listed for compulsory acquisition.
He said they agreed to sell the two pieces of land and the Town and Country Planning Division advised that a third piece should be sold because there would be no access to the other areas.
He said back then, the first two pieces were valued at $70,000 and $300,000 respectively. However, they claimed that the Ministry wanted to pay them $16,000 for the small piece of land and issued a cheque which they never accepted.
After speaking to a former government minister, Ramish said he was advised to speak to someone in the Land Settlement Agency who told him that the valuation would have to be redone, since the initial evaluator had died.
He said he hired another evaluator but that person has since taken up employment with the Government. Following this, he went to NGC who said that they had issued money to the Government to settle the outstanding debt and found it was strange that the couple had not been paid.
After submitting their new valuation to the Land Settlement Agency, the family was told that a cheque had already been issued for one portion of the land so there could be no settlement on that piece. As for the other portions, they were told that their documents could not be found.
The couple said they are awaiting an appointment to see former attorney general Anand Ramlogan as they said they are fed-up.
Contacted yesterday, LSA CEO Hazar Hosein said he was unaware of the Rampersad’s case and would have to check for their file. NGC was contacted for a response but none was received up to press time.
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