Illegal land mining activities discovered on NIA-owned farm; Nevis Land Minister describes activity as atrocious

(NIA) CHARLESTOWN NEVIS — Minister responsible for Agriculture, Lands and Environment in the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) Hon. Alexis Jeffers, labelled illegal land mining activities on a government owned farming estate in Indian Castle, as an atrocious situation.

Mr. Jeffers’ comment came at the end of a tour on October 23, 2013, of areas where land mining activities had been taking place undetected for sometime without the relevant approval from the NIA.

“We have had reports of some illegal activities down here in the Stockpen area and we are here this morning to view what we consider to be an atrocious situation. This atrocity has gone on apparently for many, many years and the reason why I categorize it being an atrocious situation, is because what is going on here is something that is inconsistent with the law. It is inconsistent with what we preach around here being environmentally friendly.

“What I am seeing happening here has to be put an end and we have come here to highlight and put an end to what is happening down here in Stockpen and Indian Castle area. We have done some tours of three different areas which have been mined for top soil, fill, boulders and I believe persons out there need to know exactly what is going on here,” he explained.

According, to Minister Jeffers, the lands in question were to be utilised for agricultural purposes and the illegal activity had rendered them useless for future farming activity.

The Agriculture Minister stated that the land mining was an illegal practise and the visit to the affected areas served as a way to bring to bring attention to what had been taking place illegally.

“It is an illegal practise and we are here to highlight the illegalities of this practise and spell out to the public, why we feel this must end and also why we are so passionate about what is happening here.

“Persons on the island must understand that these islands are being used to enrich certain individuals just a few, where as the masses have to encounter the hardship of paying their bills, meeting certain expenditures. Some persons are able to live, let’s say, scot free and this must be put an end to and we are going to make sure that we take the necessary steps to make sure that this illegal practise no longer exists here on Nevis,” he said.

Notwithstanding, Mr. Jeffers said in his travels overseas he had seen persons adhere to rules and regulations and wondered why some persons in Nevis could not do the same.

“The question is why we are not complying with the laws here on the island of Nevis? We are an organised society and we are a society that believes that you must put out an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay. This [illegal mining] is not honesty at all.

“This is dishonesty because the people of Nevis are being raped and pillaged and I believe that this practise [illegal mining] should no longer be condoned. It has gone on for many years but what happened prior to our government assuming office is not for me to debate at this point in time. My thing is moving forward, we as an Administration will ensure that we continue to uphold the law and these illegal practises be put to an end now,” he said.

Also on the tour were Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Lands Mr. Ernie Stapleton, Planning Officer (Environmental) at the Ministry of Physical Planning Ms. Thema Ward and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture Mr. Eric Evelyn.

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