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Jul 20, 2009

Krooman Lagoon Reserve being sold and developed

Story PictureThe Krooman Lagoon is located just outside Belize City. And as we reported last Wednesday, the lagoon provides drainage for the City easing the flow of water into the sea to prevent flooding. At least nine acres at the western tip of the lagoon has been sold off, it was not an ordinary sale, nor is it a regular lagoon, it is in fact a reserve. News Five Jose Sanchez has the details.

Jose Sanchez, Reporting
On October twenty-sixth of 2007, the Ministry of Natural Resources declared that Krooman Lagoon was a reserve. The Compilation of Surveys between mile one and two on the Western Highway shows clearly that the area outlined in yellow was designated solely for the purpose of conservation. A group that played a major role in the reservation of the area was the We Da Fu Collet Foundation. Its president, Dr. Sharmayne Saunders, outlined the work that her group put into the effort.

Dr. Sharmayne Saunders, President, We Da Fu Collet Foundation
“There are over five hundred bird species back there. The land itself is like a basin where the water offloads itself. We decided it was best for us to preserve this area. One of the major projects and the first projects that we did as an organization—because we’re a registered organization—was to ensure that there was a thorough clean up. I have records where many people have signed on to preservation of that lagoon. One of our projects, which I said was cleaning up the lagoon, was actually funded by PACT.”

In June of 2009, less than two years after being declared a reserve, nine acres within the site were sold to the Chawla family of Xtra House Supermarket. On the map, the section sold to the Chawlas clearly show that their parcel stretches from their warehouse on the Western Highway across the lagoon. In the past month, trees have been cut and swamp has been filled.

Dr. Sharmayne Saunders
“I think if you remember a couple years ago when there wasn’t proper drainage because of the stuff people were dumping in that lagoon. There was a lot of flood back there stuff there and so our own residents; community residents like myself were suffering because the water wasn’t draining off properly. People would fill. People go back there and squat. We even had a lady who would use to look at the place and she call herself the squatting police. And all these things we sat down with City Council, we met with BTB, they funded some of these projects.”

Jose Sanchez
“What comes to your mind when you hear one developer is getting nine acres to fill, supposedly to put up a factory?”

Dr. Sharmayne Saunders
“It’s a bit confusing for me because when I look at it and I think about it, the harsh reality is that is has already been considered a reserve and documentation is available. So I don’t know what really stems when they’ve given out these lands.”

The Association of Protected Areas, APAMO is also concerned about how this important water catchment area could have gone into private hands.

Yvetta Alonzo Program Coordinator, APAMO
“It is a protected area. It’s a concern because as the Crooked Tree Lagoon, these lagoons serve as catchments area for flooding. So if we’re doing development in these areas we run the risk of flooding that can affect the communities around these areas. Again it’s something we need to look into”

Jose Sanchez
“At this point the land has been sold, do you think this is one of those cases that the land title should be revoked?”

Dr. Sharmayne Saunders
“Well, we will definitely have to proceed and see how we can speak out because we have documentation that in reality it’s a reserve. It will mean that as a community and an organized body, which we are certified, we will definitely have to make some kind of move forward.”

Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez.

The land developer was unavailable for comment, but we have received reports that he is building a factory.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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