A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) which had last year protested the installation of a Drainage Pump in the Canje River by Guyana Sugar Corporation (GUYSUCO) is now feeling vindicated about the protest back then.
The pump, according to APNU, was to extract contaminated water from the massive GuySuCo cultivations in East Berbice into the Canje River. This, according to reports, began affecting the residents’ livelihood.
The protest came after it was learnt that a number of residents in the area have been affected by contaminated water being pumped into the Canje River by rice farmers in the area.
Recently rice farmers started to cultivate areas close to the Canje River at a new cultivation aback of Number 52 Village. The location is the Youth Farmers’ Cooperative headed by 80-year-old retired Magistrate Krisendat Persaud.
These farmers use a lot of chemicals and have been erratically discharging the contaminated water from their rice fields into the Canje River, according to reports. This new practice has begun to seriously affect the lives of the residents in the area and a number of them have died while a large number has taken ill. Reports are that five residents have since died from what the residents are claiming is the contamination caused by the chemical in the water. Many of the illnesses were not diagnosed by the doctors.
When APNU protested the planned GUYSUCO project it did not know about the actions of the rice farmers. The political party through its Region Six lead Councillor, Kerwin Crawford, dispatched a missive last December to the Chairman of the underperforming Guysuco registering the concern and demanding a withdrawal of the project.
According to APNU they were first told that the pump would have been an irrigation pump. It turned out that the pump will be a drainage pump.
The opposition party’s main bone of contention then is that the pump which will be installed at the cost of millions of dollars will drain contaminated water from the Guysuco cultivation into the Canje River areas thus affecting the lives of thousands of residents in the Canje, New Amsterdam and Corentyne and Berbice River areas.
The Canje River serves residents in East and West Canje, Canje River, New Amsterdam, Corentyne and Berbice River areas.
On Friday, Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy, accompanied by a team, visited the area and saw the damage done to the area and the catastrophe waiting to happen. But according to APNU no decision has been made.
Crawford, who was on the trip, said that he is not aware that any decision was made. He said that his party is not taking the matter lightly. He said that his party may seek legal advice.
Crawford stated that the pump has not gone into action as yet, but the damage is being done by the rice farmers.
He said that the practice is not in line with EPA standards. He wondered if the projects have been approved. He said that it is a known fact that the Canje River is used by hundreds of Guyanese for their daily livelihood.
It is also a known fact that both Guysuco and the rice farmers use a lot of deadly chemicals in their wide cultivation for various reasons. These chemicals flow into their various water networks. If they drain that water into the Canje River, the practice would only serve to disrupt the lives of those who rely on the river.
Crawford had warned that if something is not done he is convinced that the act would lead to a disaster and genocide. Marine life would die and those who use the river will be affected immensely.
Regional Chairman David Armogan had stated firmly that farmers will not be allowed to disrupt the lives of the people in the area.
He however mentioned that despite several warnings they continue to plant in the area and a decision was pending. He warned that firm action will be taken against those bent on doing their own thing.
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