Farmers charged for trespassing on Belle Vue “private” lands

first_imgAs tensions rise over several acres of land continue at Bell Vue, West Coast Demerara, 11 farmers have been charged for trespassing on private lands.This was related to Guyana Times on Friday by a farmer, Satesh Rajpat, who explained that several farmers – including Ramcharran Sookram, Imraz Hassan and his father Ramesh Rajpat – who have been planting pineapples, corn, cassava, sweet potatoes, plantain and banana sucker, red bean and cash crops; including tomatoes and other vegetables, were told they were planting on “private lands”.A few of the aggrieved farmers complaining to Police Officers recently at Belle VueAccording to him, those farmers were taken to the Wales Police Station on Thursday and released on $20,000 station bail each for trespassing. Satesh Rajpat added that those charges were instituted after a report was made by the Belle Vue Cane Farmers Marketing Co-op Society Chairman, Deodat Deokinandan, who is claiming the farmers have been squatting on the land.Rajpat added the matter is expected to come up at the Wales Magistrate’s Court later in March; however, the farmers are also contemplating taking legal action as they believe their rights are being stifled by a wealthy businessman.“They are claiming now that they have a lease from NICIL (National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited) who is now the owner of all of the Guyana Sugar Corporation’s (GuySuCo) Wales Estate assets but when we spoke to NICIL, they (said) they never issued such a document, so an investigation would be launched into that to find out who issued them with a lease from NICIL,” the farmer stated.He added that they are making arrangements to file legal actions in the High Court for damages and compensation. The farmer said they have reached out to the Government to intervene in the matter.Although the farmers are confident that they have been utilising State lands to ply their trade since the fall of the Wales Sugar Estate, the Co-op Society Chairman recently produced documents to prove that many of the farmers allegedly sold their shares to the society while others supposedly relinquished their lands for the society to operate.“I am never a bully and will never be a bully. These people come illegally and squat on the Society’s land and it is not the right thing to do and dem ah seh de President tell them to do that… I don’t know who is the real bully but these people already take compensation from the Society; some in 2011 and some in 2014,” Deokinandan explained during a previous interview.The dispute between the farmers and the businessman erupted on February 17, 2019, when the Police were called in after farmers contended that they, and their predecessors, have cultivated cane from 1956 to 2016 under a co-operative arrangement following an initial Bookers contract, but a businessman had erected a fence adjacent to the Belle Vue Public Road and other partitions, including one blocking the entrance on a reserved space for a dam along which machines could be driven to clean waterways.When the Wales Sugar Estate ceased operations by the end of 2016, the farmers petitioned Government to be allowed to cultivate diversified crops as their original contracts disallowed them from doing so. They indicated that after President David Granger granted the approval, they opted to begin planting in 2017. However, according to the Belle Vue farmers, they are being bullied for the land.They said the businessman allowed cows to graze in the crops which would hinder a return on investment.Deokinandan explained that the cows grazing in the lands fenced off are legally placed since this was passed during a general meeting of the Society. He also denied claims that he has been threatening the farmers at Belle Vue.Society Secretary Antoinette Manichand meanwhile said many of the farmers were errant members and were taken to arbitration for not paying their share of fees in land rentals to GuySuCo. She observed that it would be unfair for the Society’s contributing members to offset the costs for those who were not paying their dues. It was earlier explained by members that the descendants were reportedly no longer interested in cultivating sugar cane.She also claimed one such farmer was Francis Ferreira, who was allegedly paid $290,000 in compensation; a cheque made out in the name of the businessman, while others were paid hundreds of thousands and some over a million dollars for their fields. She provided documents to this effect.last_img read more