The Isseneru, Region Eight river dredge is reportedly back in operation, just days after government ordered a halt to dredging following an outcry from the Amerindian village leaders.
Kaieteur News understands from the Tashao Dhaneff Larson and village councilors that the miners recommenced operation that very day, when officials from a Government sponsored team had left.
The Department of Natural Resources and the Environment (DNRE), conducted its fact-finding mission on Wednesday, November 18 as committed to by Minister of Governance Raphael Trotman. The multi-agency team was comprised of representatives of the DNRE, the Ministry of Indigenous Affairs, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the GGMC.
According to a release from the Ministry of the Presidency on Saturday, “The residents benefitted from a detailed interaction with the team and various concerns on mining along with other issues were raised. Discussions were also held with the owners of the ceased operation and relevant data was collected.”
The release also reported that an injunction was granted in favor of Isseneru to restrain the miner from working or attempting to mine on any part of the village’s titled land.
“The court action # 2015-HC-DEM-CIV-W-420 also unsuccessfully sought to restrain the GGMC from issuing any permission to the miner and other defendants named in the action to mine and or operate within the boundaries of Isseneru’s titled property. This matter remains active and before the Court.”
Yesterday, however the Tashao was adamant that the miners have recommenced and are in fact working night and day. He also noted that the distance between the operation and the river bank, where houses are located, is less than 100 metres.
According to Larson, while it was good that the team came, there is an urgent need for intervention as the dredge is a noise nuisance and students cannot study for end of term exams, the sick are affected and appliances and structures are put in jeopardy by the constant vibrations.
The villagers have also been complaining that its food supply from the nearby river was under threat.
The cease order was reportedly effective since November 15, pending the fact-finding mission which was to assess the water quality and other issues and concerns related to pollution and adherence to boundary laws.
It is also anticipated that Government will be addressing the issue of land management and the distribution of lands for varying sectors in order to create a National Land Use Policy.
In a similar case in 2013 in a landmark court ruling, villagers of Isseneru, a Middle Mazaruni village, lost a case concerning their right to prevent commercial miners from “invading the grounds of our forefathers.”
Justice Diana Insanally had ruled that under the Amerindian Act 2006, the Amerindians, second defendants in the land dispute matter, have no authority or jurisdiction to prevent licensed miners from doing so.
The GGMC was also told by the court that it too, under the Act, has no right to prevent or cease mining works without the proper footing.
The matter of the Isseneru community was brought to the attention of the courts in November 2011. This approach stemmed from a Cease Work Order which was passed on miner Joan Chang by the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC).
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