After 30 years, Great Diamond squatters will receive titles of ownership

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Some 65 households currently occupying lands at Block ‘D’ Plantation Great Diamond, East Bank Demerara, will soon receive titles of ownership for the lands which they have been occupying for the last three decades.

Minister within the Ministry of Housing, Susan Rodrigues, said the breakthrough comes after several attempts, dating back to 2005, to have the squatters regularised.

At the end of March 2021, the Ministry of Housing and Water along with the Central Planning and Housing Authority (CH&PA) was notified that the National Industrial and Commercial Investment Limited (NICIL) has agreed to transfer the land for which they have ownership.

After all legal requirements are fulfilled, this paves the way for the Ministry and the CH&PA to move ahead with the regularization of the area which had been stalled for several years.

Rodrigues told the News Room during an interview at her office on Wednesday, that it was part of her ambitious plan to not only ensure that applicants receive lands but also those persons who have been living and have erected structures on un-regularized plots of land receive proper documentation of ownership.

“Land ownership has two aspects… yes we are focused on those persons who have applied and are looking to acquire housing… but another side is that of squatting and we want to ensure this is addressed,” Rodrigues said.

Recalling the history of the issue at Plantation Great Diamond, the minister said the matter was brought to her attention by a resident recently. She said although there were efforts dating back to 2005 to have the area regularised, those efforts were stalled because the land was not owned by the CH&PA.

The lands, were at the time, owned by the Guyana Sugar Cooperation (GuySuCO), but during attempts to transfer those lands, a boundary dispute arose where Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL) had claimed ownership to parts of the land. The minister said, coupled with “several technicalities”, the disputed portion of the land was occupied by three households.

These households have since been relocated to areas in Prospect, East Bank Demerara by the Ministry of Housing with the ministry working out a compensation arrangement with DDL.

At the beginning of 2021, NICIL was written to on a request to transfer the lands which NICIL’s boss, R.K Sharma, subsequently agreed to. On March 25, 2021, Cabinet granted its no objection to the transfer.

The minister now looks to fulfil all legal requirement to finalise the transfer and move swiftly ahead with regularisation.

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