CEO of the Land Settlement Agency, Hazar Hosein, said the increase in squatting over the last five years has posed a major challenge for the Agency.
During their discussions before the Joint Select Committee on State Lands on Tuesday, it was revealed that Toco Sangre/Grande is one of the highest populated squatting areas in the country.
"Mainly because the lands are generally forest reserves and includes a lot of environmentally sensitive areas that should not be squatted upon. Between the years 2010 to 2015, we had a high growth of squatting in the particular area."
According to Chairman of the current Board, Ossley Francis, a policy implemented by the previous Board stated that as long as citizens live on State lands they can receive a Certificate of Comfort, no matter where they are located.
"Regardless whether they live on the river banks, on the scientific reserves, on the TGR, on the Recreation Grounds, just give it to them, and that has happened. It has put us, this new Board, at a great dilemma to find a place and a space to accommodate the squatters who were handed Certificates of Comfort."
He said they are hoping to apply the law as it exists under Act 25 of 1998 which states that the LSA must find alternative places for squatters who were granted Certificates of Comfort.
According to Mr. Hosein, 23,000 applied for regularisation in October 2000, but the numbers have increased since then.
"As of today's date, our best estimate puts the number of squatters at approximately 55,000 families, estimated 55,000 families and if we multiply that by four, we are looking at well over 200,000 persons in Trinidad who are squatting."