Anyone found mining in a protected area will be arrested – Minister Harmon
DPI/GINA, Friday, June 02, 2016
Minister of State, Joseph Harmon has emphasised that Government’s position is that anyone found mining illegally in any protected area, will be arrested, and there will be no exception.
Minister Harmon made this disclosure during a post-Cabinet press briefing today, at the Ministry of the Presidency.
On May 28, several persons including residents of Chenapau, Region Eight, were arrested and transported to Georgetown from the Kaieteur National Park after reports of illegal mining in the area.
When asked whether the decision to arrest those persons was too harsh, Minister Harmon explained that the Kaieteur National Park is part of Guyana’s protected area system, and one which the country is proud of.
“In the 2011 Protection Areas Bill and which subsequently became an Act, there were certain provisions that were made since that Act. Since we came into office this has been our second operation to expel illegal mining in that area. Mining is not one of the activities permitted in that area under the law; they are other sustainable forms of livelihood which are permitted. And so, once people go into the area and they mine it is our responsibility of the state to ensure that they are removed,” Minister Harmon said.
Minister Harmon further explained that in this occasion, the mining became more extensive and therefore the persons, who were mining there illegally, were subjected to the Laws of Guyana.
“The important thing to note in the operation, is that the persons who were found there are not the managers or owners of the dredges, and I am making a public call for those persons to come in to us, and let us talk to you because that is not the way to go. If there is an issue with mining areas or so on, discuss it with GGMC (Guyana Geology and Mines Commission),” Minister Harmon noted.
Meanwhile, following meetings among Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman, and other officials from the Ministry and the GGMC, it was decided that as an act of good faith, government will not prosecute the charges against the more than 20 persons arrested on May 28, for mining within the Park.
The Kaieteur National Park is one of the country’s protected areas, managed under the Protected Areas Commission. It is one of the oldest and most iconic Protected Areas of Guyana and was established in 1929. It is especially known for the majestic Kaieteur Falls, the tallest single-drop waterfall in the world.
In a statement, the Natural Resources Ministry reaffirmed that the park has been designated a Protected Area, and will remain off limits to mining, forest-harvesting and other related activities. Further, it has been determined that the pre-1999 boundaries for the Kaieteur National Park will not be restored as some have advocated.
While the Ministry of Natural Resources remains firm in its mandate to protect the national patrimony for future generations, it is not insensitive to the needs of communities, and therefore, the Ministry along with other Government entities, is prepared to work with the Chenapau and other communities to identify opportunities for benefit-sharing and sustainable livelihoods in the on-going conservation efforts for the Kaieteur National Park and other protected areas.
By: Synieka Thorne