Surujbally seeks $100M from Government over acquisition of his land for gas to energy project; Govt. says his demand is unreasonable

Surujbally seeks $100M from Government over acquisition of his land for gas to energy project; Govt. says his demand is unreasonable

Former Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Dr Steve Surujbally is seeking $100M for his plot of land which is being acquired by the State to facilitate the Gas-to-Energy Project.

The Government has described the claim as simply “unreasonable.”

Dr. Surujbally has taken the Government to Court over what he sees as its failure to adequately compensate him for his transported land at Nouvelle Flanders in Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara).

In the Court action, which names the Attorney General, Anil Nandlall and Minister of Public Works Juan Edghill as the respondents, Dr Surujbally told the High Court that the State failed to make “prompt payment of adequate compensation” for the acquisition of his land for public purpose, in violation of his Constitutional right of protection from deprivation of property.

Surujbally told the Court that the Government failed to engage him in negotiations as provided for under the law, and a proposal by him to be compensated to the tune of $60M in addition to a plot of land at Ogle valued $40M, has been met with no response.

But in an Affidavit filed by the Attorney General Anil Nandlall, Head of the Gas to Energy Task Force, Winston Brassington said the State is not mandated to engage in negotiations with land owners in the case of land acquisition for public purposes.

Brassington told the Court that the State at all times acted in good faith.

“At all material times, the Government acted in good faith and with the requisite fairness and alacrity in engaging landowners regarding the Gas-to-Energy Project, and specially, in terms of the intended acquisition of their lands for the project,” Brassington said in his Affidavit.

He said through the process of acquisition, landowners were engaged by Government Ministers and their designates.

Brassington submitted further that of the 2.005 acres of land held by Surujbally, only 1.5 acres was acquired by the Government, and according to him, the land’s value is not $100M.  

“I am aware that in light of the applicant’s unreasonable and uncompromising position for compensation in the amount of $100M for land measuring about 1.5 acres, and valued at $7.6M, the Attorney General prioritised the Applicant’s negotiating process, himself engaging the Applicant through his Attorney-at-Law as recent as 17 August 2023,” Brassington he explained.

He said there has been no constitutional or statutory violations of Surujbally’s right not to be deprived of property without prompt payment of compensation as alleged by the former GECOM official.

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