‘Don’t bully, consult villagers on the use of their lands’

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—PNCR tells Govt

Vice Chairman of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), Vinceroy Jordan has called on the Government to desist from bullying residents of the West Berbice villages of Profit, Foulis, El Dorado, Belladrum, Paradise and Golden Fleece for their land.

He was referencing move by the administration to utilize lands that run through these villages to construct a canal to aid in drainage and irrigation in the agriculture-based region.

Noting that the villagers are the legal owners to the lands, the Opposition Member of Parliament said instead of bullying, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Administration should consult the villagers if it desires to consult a canal. “No action should be taken without meaningful consultation and mutual agreement which must include adequate compensation negotiated by the stakeholders,” the PNCR Vice Chairman said during a press conference on Friday.

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However, he was keen on noting that villagers have the right to decide whether they will facilitate the construction of the canal on their lands. Any attempt to utilise residents’ transported lands without their consent will be condemned by the PNCR, he warned.

“This project is intended to construct a new drainage canal passing through the bona-fide transported rice cultivation lands of proprietors of the afore-mentioned communities. This will result in each proprietor losing significant portions of their lands to accommodate the canal and dams on both sides along with shoulder drains,” he explained.

The Mahaica Mahaicony Abary – Agricultural Development Authority (MMA/ADA) has reportedly indicated that the project was conceptualised more than 7 years ago, and it was against this background they initiated the project.

But the PNCR Vice Chairman said it is unacceptable for MMA/ADA to initiate the construction of canal without the consent of the land owners. He said for that reason, the PNCR is in full support of the proprietors, who vigorously objected to the project and stopped machines from working.

“It must be made very clear that the project intended by the MMA/ADA will benefit not one (1) of the proprietors and is aimed at draining Eight thousand (8000) acres of rice lands south of the Main Canal which are all controlled by the said state-owned entity,” Jordan highlighted.

He said at a time when the government is claiming to promote agriculture, it proposes a project that will result in the disadvantage of the poor and average Guyanese engaged in rice cultivation along the villages of Profit to Golden Fleece.

“This project will put these proprietors’ agricultural lands at risk since there can be excessive flooding with the volume of water intended to be drained by this channel, and should there be any prolonged or unusual hide tide, excessive rain or overtopping of the Abary Creek these proprietors will be adversely affected,” he contended.

He also condemned the manner in which the government rolled out the project.

“The Peoples National Congress Reform (PNCR) strongly condemns this irrational act by the MMA/ADA and urges that they immediately go into full consultation with all proprietors and desist from bullying these proprietors. The MMA/ADA was developed by Former President Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham to mainly bring aid and proper management of all state land within Region 5 and not to deprive and frustrate citizens,” he said.

At a recent meeting with proprietors and representatives of MMA/ADA, it was recommended that the project be placed on hold to allow for meaningful consultation.

During that meeting, it was recommended that the affected land owners be written to by MMA/ADA stating the nature of the project, that they be given a clear calculation of how much land they stand to lose at the expense of this project, and allowed the opportunity to meet on the ground physically to examine the proposed plan.

Importantly, they asked that they be given the right to decide on the way forward since the lands belong to them.



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