Oct 14, 2021 News
Kaieteur News – The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has received over 2,500 complaints from residents as it relates to pollution and noise nuisance in various neighbourhoods across Guyana.
Head of the EPA’s Complaints Unit and Senior Environmental Officer, Surjpaul Singh, made the disclosure during the October edition of “The Environment Matters” on Monday. The programme is broadcast on Facebook and YouTube once monthly.
During the programme, Singh revealed that the majority of the complaints surround the issue of odour nuisances from poultry and livestock businesses, along with dust and fumes from furniture and spray-painting workshops.
“Some major types of complaints that we receive at the agency are basically odour nuisances from poultry-rearing operations or livestock operations. We also receive a lot regarding dust and fumes from furniture workshops, spray-painting workshops, auto body/mechanic shops, and noise also from bars and religious places,” he said.
The EPA officer listed Region Four at the top of the list of hot spot areas for pollution. “We receive a lot of complaints about drainage and dumping of garbage and so on from Region Four,” Singh said.
He noted that the other hotspots are Regions Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam), Region Three Essequibo Islands-West Demerara, Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica), and Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne).
Given that the complaints coming to the agency are scattered across the country, Singh said that the EPA has to craft a strategic plan in order to tackle these complaints. He noted that, in this regard, partnerships with other stakeholder agencies are essential.
He explained, “We need partnerships with other agencies to resolve these complaints and we have recognised over the past year that there are some agencies out there that have a mandate or jurisdiction to respond to these complaints. However, most of these complaints still come to the agency, so after that whole realisation about partnership with particularly the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development, we have reached out to them and we are doing a series of engagements. We are reaching out to the Regional Democratic Council [RDC] and Neighbourhood Democratic Council [NDC] to let them know their role in sorting out these issues.”
Singh explained that the Local Government Act as well as the Public Ordinance empowers the Region as well as the NDCs to deal with environmental matters within their locale but they have not been doing so.
At present, the EPA officer said that the agency has been left to group its complaints according to district to minimise the amount of work left on the shoulders of the agency.
“So if we have complaints from East Coast of Demerara, we look from Georgetown to Mahaica/ Mahaicony, we look at all those complaints within that range, and we go out, do our investigation. Then we come back, do our reporting, then recommendations are made to the polluters to minimise the harm,” he said.
As it relates to dealing with the polluters, Singh revealed that the EPA looks at ways in which it cooperates with the businesses and individuals before any serious action is taken.
He noted that most times, polluters are given time to comply with their order and reduce the amount of harm done to the environment.
“Our first move is never to shut down businesses…our first approach is to work along with businesses to make sure they are in compliance with the recommended mitigation measures,” Singh posited.
The EPA official noted that follows-ups are conducted to inquire as to whether the recommendations were being adhered to, or put into practice. Singh stated that when these measures are continually ignored, then action is taken by the agency to remedy such.
“We could have legal actions brought against you – our Act speaks about a prohibition notice, whereby if you are not in compliance with our regulations or measures that are prescribed to you, the agency can issue a prohibition notice to you or a cessation order, meaning they can cease your operation,” he asserted.
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