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|Filling Cunha Canal in 1990 was strategic mistake|
|Written by Whitney Persaud|
|Tuesday, 08 May 2012 23:12|
- says Ramsammy
MINISTER of Agriculture, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy, has said that the filling of the Cunha Canal, to accommodate the Barama Office in 1990, was a strategic mistake. Speaking to the media recently, he said this has created a major problem for residents in the areas that were once drained by the Cunha.
Now that the government is working towards the re-establishment of the sluice, there has been a major setback with the recent cuts to the national budget, Ramsammy stated.
He said residents of the Mahaica/Mahaicony/Abary area are already experiencing flooding and, with the halt of rehabilitation works on the Cunha Canal, the situation will worsen.
Ramsammy pointed out that the Cunha Canal plays a very significant role as it relates to the effective functioning of the Hope Canal, since the latter is highly dependent on the former, if it is to carry out its expected tasks.
Even after the restoration of the sluice in 2005, he said Cunha was only working at about 40 percent of its original capacity before it was filled in and, as such, operations were not optimal.
“It was, therefore, a strategic mistake in 1990 when the canal was filled to accommodate the Barama Office and, subsequently, that sluice was closed. In 2005, the sluice was restored but, because the canal was filled, it had to be diverted to a small circuitous canal away from Cunha and, even though we restored the flow out to the Demerarar River, it was working only at 40 percent of what it originally was,” he explained.
In light of this reduced capacity, the minister said some areas are highly dependent on the Maduni Sluice and Lama Conservancy, which still leave several areas vulnerable to flooding.
Ramsammy said Hope Canal was designed to reduce dependency on Lama and Maduni and it will depend on the Cunha canal.
He also stressed that the importance of the Cunha Canal is to prevent and reduce the risks of flooding.“Without Cunha, the northern relief channel at Hope will not accomplish its task of eliminating the danger; the elimination of that risk was a combination of Hope and Cunha.”
“Because of this reduced capacity, we now, totally, depend on Maduni and Lama whenever the conservancy gets to high levels and that is what raised the risk for the Mahaicony/Mahaica area. That is well known but what is not well known is that all the areas along the Linden Highway, Laluni, Badrima and all those areas, their discharge of water was only into the Cunha,” he revealed.
Ramsammy insisted that the supplementary allocations proposed by the Opposition are not practical, since supplementaries are intended for national emergencies for which there was no budgeting.
He said the recent non-approval of the $420M within the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) for the Cunha is a real setback, because “we would not be able to remove all the risks associated with releasing and discharging water from Maduni and Lama.”
Ramsammy said whle funds have been assured, the minster said the authority to spend that money has not been approved and this is time taken away from saving the livelihoods of persons living in surrounding areas that will be severely affected, if anything major is to occur.
He said, even while assurance has been given that the money needed will be available through a supplementary, this is still not enough to get things on board to begin works at Cunha.
Ramsammy said the law limits Guyana to only five supplementary budgets per year and the Opposition is only creating a smokescreen as supplementaries are meant to address emergencies for which there was nothing in the budget.
“They said they will give you the money in the form of a supplementary whenever you are ready for it and most people get trapped (since) the laws of Guyana limit us as it relates to supplementaries. It’s not like every time you are ready to go and spend you will get money,” he said.
Minster Ramsammy said, to start a project, such a simple thing like advertisements to hire contractors to tender for the design of the sluice cannot be done, since it would be illegal to start planning to spend money that has not been approved.
The whole purpose of putting it in the budget was to commence works.
“When the money is actually in my hand, I don’t have to wait, I could start doing works from there,” he maintained.