Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 13th 2013 Contents A7
October 13, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
Solid sheeting $860.00
Hollow sheeting $800.00
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SKYON POLYCARBONATE AWNINGS
A A A A A
The war between president of
the Agricultural Society of T&T
(ASTT) Dhano Sookoo and Food
Production Minister Devant
Maharaj has intensified.
Maharaj fired his first salvo two
weeks ago, claiming there was finan-
cial impropriety at the ASTT. He
also called on National Security Min-
ister Gary Griffith to expedite an
investigation into alleged misappro-
priation of funds.
Sookoo has responded by sending
Maharaj a legal letter dated October
1, through her attorney Vashist
Maharaj, claiming that the minister's
allegations are false and unjustified
and have caused her distress and
embarrassment. Sookoo is asking
the minister for a retraction, apology
The minister was given until
October 14 to respond.
"This matter will be handled in
the court. My name has been tar-
nished. The allegations have been
affecting my family, in particular
three of my children who are still
attending school," she said.
Insisting that the ASTT has been
operating above board and every
cent can be accounted for, Sookoo
said, her hands are clean.
"There has been no financial
impropriety in the six years I have
served as president," she insisted.
She said all of the society's busi-
ness transactions can be supported
by bills and documents.
Speaking at the ASTT headquar-
ters in Chaguanas, Sookoo said she
would welcome a Fraud Squad probe
of the ASTT's financial records.
Last year, Sookoo said, the ASTT
was allocated $5.7 million in the
budget. She accused Maharaj of
withholding more than $740,000
of state funds.
"We have hundreds of thousands
of dollars owing to suppliers for sta-
tionery. Right now we don't even
have paper to print a letter. We have
been buying toilet paper, coffee and
juice from our pockets. Board mem-
bers have also purchasing fuel for
the ASTT's vehicles."
Sookoo: I am worse off now
Sookoo also complained that the
salary of the entire board had not
been paid in the last two months
by the ministry.
Even Sookoo's August salary was
cut by 80 per cent.
She takes home $20,500 monthly
after tax, a far cry to what she made
as a fruit and vegetable importer in
"I used to make $20,000 on aver-
age a week as an importer," she
"What I have today was as a result
of my hard work and sacrifices."
When Sookoo calculates her hours
of work to her salary, she feels cheat-
ed. She claimed her work far out-
weighed her pay packet.
"I am worse off now. My five chil-
dren don't see me. I don't spend
quality time with my family because
of the commitment I made to serve
the farmers. My family have been
begging me to quit."
She promised not to back down.
Sookoo complained that the board
made several attempts to have a
meeting with Maharaj, but got
The ASTT represents 86 farming
groups consisting of approximately
10,000 registered farmers.
War between minister and ASTT president intensifies
Seismologist Dr Joan Latchman
says the region s largest earth-
quake in excess of magnitude 7
occurred more than 200 years ago
but measures should be put in
place in T&T to prepare for such
a catastrophic event.
Speaking one day after a 6.4
magnitude earthquake struck 74
Km north-west of Port-of-Spain
at 10.10 pm on Friday, Dr Latchman
said it was widely felt throughout
Trinidad and the Seismic Research
Centre (SRC) at UWI, St Augus-
tine, had received reports from as
far as St Vincent and Grenada. An
aftershock measuring 4.9 magni-
tude was felt at 1.52 am.
There were reports of disruptions
of electricity supply in Carenage,
Pt Cumana and Santa Flora and in
other areas the cellular network
was overloaded and the internet
system went down.
"The region here in the T&T area
has not seen its largest earthquake
for more than 200 years and we
need to put measures in place to
be prepared for when it happens.
"We've been advising that this
size of earthquake tends to occur
every ten to 15 years in our region,
the last one was in 1997, magnitude
6.1 south of Tobago and so we're
reminding people that we are due
for that sort of size event.
"While we can't give the date,
time, location and magnitude of
the next big earthquake, we cer-
tainly have observed patterns and
we can make projections based on
She said a magnitude 7.4 earth-
quake occurs in the Eastern
Caribbean every twenty to thirty
years. After the 1974 event between
Antigua and Barbuda, there was
the 7.3 magnitude earthquake in
Martinique in 2007 and the dev-
astating 7 magnitude earthquake
that struck Haiti in 2010.
Latchman said the SRC had been
expecting to see an earthquake in
the 6 magnitude range based on
its data that one occurred every
ten to 15 years.
She recommended that earth-
quake drills be practiced by com-
panies and schools and urged cit-
izens to take responsibility and put
measures in place to be prepared.
Dr Latchmen advised keeping an
emergency bug-out bag with food,
medications and documents ready
and make sure water tanks are
secured for the best chance to ride
out an earthquake or disaster when
More information on earthquake
and disaster-preparedness drills
can be found on the SRC's website:
Seismologists warns after 6.4 tremor:
T&T must prepare
for major quake
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