Arresting the Decline Into HDC Madness

By Stephen Kangal
February 21, 2018

Stephen KangalToday Friday 16 February 2018 I made my third visit for this week to the fabulous and awesome natural ambience of St Augustine Nurseries located West of Southern Main and Farm Roads in Curepe.

I have agonized at the potential and real destruction and bull-dozing of the beautiful natural and plant assets domiciled here for over one hundred years in this part of our landed patrimony that was in fact a workshop of nature generating flowers and food to all who visited.

Welcome to St. Augustine Nurseries

Welcome to St. Augustine Nurseries

The area of the St Augustine Nurseries has now dwindled to 60 acres after the losses to the NHA Development ( 1960’s) and HDC (East Grove/Ramgoolie Development 2015) housing settlements.

East Grove Housing on Ramgoolie Development in Curepe

East Grove Housing on Ramgoolie Development in Curepe

East Grove behind NHA Housing Village

East Grove behind NHA Housing Village

HDC Site Location

HDC Site Location

The HDC plans to appropriate a 20 further acres of what is left to erect their 600 high- rise apartment buildings on this eastern part of the seedlings facility. It will produce a range of adverse consequences, inter alia, for:

  • traffic movement including the round de road route,
  • the integrity of the Nurseries,
  • the water-table and aquifers,
  • employment of the workers,
  • water production by WASA and
  • the safety of crops planted by the Nurseries and
  • the continued supply of planting materials to meet the public demand that is on the rise.
  • Loss of Vital Green Spaces
HDC Site Location

HDC Site Location

They that is the HDC held two very secretive consultations at the Pentecostal Church in Curepe on New Year’s Eve and Carnival Friday last with paltry attendance. A lot of misinformation was communicated to the few who attended. These cannot be classified as consultations because the Nurseries is a national institution serving the public and they must all have the opportunity to comment on this action that will be detrimental to its continued fulfilment of its national mandate and mission.

Here are planted in this 20-acre part all the trees and shrubs that the workers use to cut small wooden pieces to propagate their planting materials for sale to the public. This 20 acre component is integral to the 60 acre St Augustine Nurseries. Without it and its fruit trees and shrubs the nursery will not be able to function and achieve its core purpose that is:

‘To produce high quality planting material to the farming community and general public thereby contributing to food security
and
To expand and conserve germplasm collections of key strategic crops of agricultural importance in live genebanks and/or cold storage so as to ensure sustainability of the Agricultural Sector for the benefit of both the present and future generations.’

Eastern part of the site

It took many decades to plant and manicure these trees to provide the cuttings for plants. All will be lost were the HDC madness to materialize into fruition and transform this Eastern part of the site into a housing settlement that can negatively impact on what is left. Some of the accumulated agricultural wealth (germplasm and trees) of the Nation will be replaced by houses that can be built elsewhere in less environmentally sensitive domains leaving this sanctuary untouched to thrive in its awe-inspiring and breath-taking virgin state of nature.

Valsayn Water Works

Valsayn Water Works

There are also several wells drilled by WASA as above producing millions of gallons of potable water in this 20 acre part of the Nursery. They will be lost and contaminated by new housing. The contradiction is that Bangladesh on the other side of the River is seen as an environmental and human threat to the same water table but they want to build houses on another part of this same prolific water table for which Valsayn St Joseph is well-known historically. Can we accept this deception as a Nation shorn out of its ethnic moorings?

The very integrity of the St Augustine Nurseries is now being threatened by this barbaric invasion of this herbarium host to precious plants and germplasm. I get the distinct impression that staff at the station do not support this decline into madness.

Ministry of Food Production

Ministry of Food Production

This sanctuary with its luxuriant foliage

This sanctuary with its luxuriant foliage

The natural beauty of this sanctuary with its luxuriant foliage supported by ultra- fertile soil base of a sandy loam and river gravel at the lower depths that act as a natural filtration system is to be vandalized for achieving party political and partisan electoral objectives. We may have to eat ballot boxers to survive in the future because someone wants to use this St Augustine Nurseries of a paradise to create an additional vote bank in the St Joseph Constituency. Houses are bad but the vote bank factor is an obscene and vulgar response to this natural wonderland than can be transformed into a tourist-attracting Nature Trail in the middle of a township of Curepe.

Nature Trail in the middle of a township of Curepe

Nature Trail in the middle of a township of Curepe

I have attached above some photographs of this 20 acre part of the Nurseries showing the density of plants including the famous julie mango grove from which planting materials are propagated to fill a great demand for this fruit.
The citrus trees are badly affected by a virus and will have to be renewed.

I returned out of this plant sanctuary with a very heavy heart thinking that in 21st Century T&T, First world aspirant with a 67% tertiary enrolment and a ballooning middle class that we can support this callousness as an industrializing society with a strong environmental lobby and an Environmental Management Agency that is a toothless bull-dog.

A Grove of Julie Mangoes

A Grove of Julie Mangoes

8 Responses to “Arresting the Decline Into HDC Madness”


  • Once gone, gone forever. Yes the agro business is not this government business, growing houses on fertile land their priority.

    Historically the PNM has been the party of free housing. Last year a little over 3,000 resident owe over $100 million in non payment. In the business world that model could not be sustained. But this is government housing that sometimes morph into gettoes for drugs and recreational sex.

    The PNM has always been a party that enjoys the perks of power. They knew that in order to maintain power they had to create these strategic housing. They operate with a high level of arrogance and will not listen to good reasoning. So one can expect these lands will soon turn into concrete and bricks.

    • I think y’all are way ahead of allyuh self… A DR. Rowley’s PNM cannot win any elections in T&T… So, leave ‘voter padding’ out of this issue..
      Now, Green Space… We need that..

      Anyway, did y’all see what the Guptas did to a Strong ANC party in South Africa… Sinanan and dem will do the same to The PNM..

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eoz0dlM0gZU

      • Ram K did you see how voter padding houses made Tunapuna and St Joseph no longer marginals in the 2015 elections? You cannot igore this reality

        • You Folks are so Racist. And cannot get over your self’s. It will appear you folks Don’t Read what you write, or say. Where else one will build Houses.? around Buildup spaces. Its just a matter of, saying DON’T Bring those people around US.—but, WHO us? I will also think—They DAMM if they Do——DAMM if they Don’t. That is the sad state of affairs, in T&T. the HATE is so strong, that its cancerous. funny,it COMES FROM SO CALL, well LEARNT INDIVIDUALS.??????

        • Hi Stephen. No, I did not see, “how voter padding houses made Tunapuna and St Joseph”.
          But these are mute issues in this digital age. The idea here is to SAVE GREEN SPACE (Even doh they say Africans doh like LAND… I do.) WE NEED THE RAPID RAIL to get people from here to there in as little time as possible. From Mayaro to POS in about 1 hour or less.. So we can develop communities in less congested areas and, you won’t have to live amongst us ‘Black Folks’ too, Stephen. But Sinanan and his Indian possee cannot get all the Rapid Rail Contracts, Stephen… It must be an Affirmative Action Project… and the Land at these Rapid Rail ‘Stops’ MUST be evenly ‘sold/shared, whatever’ because they have proven to be a valuable real estate investment in most mass-transit-ready countries (for shops, housing, etc).
          Did I ever tell you you look like my Somalian friend, Stephen?

          Good luck on your mission…

  • RAMK, Me thinks you mean “moot” rather than “mute issues.”
    But both words work just as well here.I agree with the concept that green spaces in T&T are at a premium. But so too everywhere in the world. The green-spaces-only train has left the station and balanced development has to be the watch word for the future.
    Man cannot live on grass alone.

  • These issues of voter padding and voter manipulation have long been festering in T&T.
    The PNM from the early years under Eric Williams introduced voting machines with the intention of cheating, a practice in the USA which disadvantaged Black voters in many states. Ironically, the intention in T&T was to disadvantage Indian voters.
    The PNM has always been conscious of the narrow population balance in the marginal constituencies and crafted a HDC plan to skew the population of voters in their favor.
    The percentage of swing voters in these marginal constituencies is high enough to decide elections depending on which Party they choose to support. Stacking PNM voters in these areas eliminates the effectiveness of these swing voters. Manning was a master of voter house padding.
    The destruction of pristine environmentally sensitive areas is going a bit too far to create political advantage.
    But it is to be expected in a country where politics has an immorality of its own.

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