Government has begun moves to establish a Land Reclamation Unit. This was revealed today, by Minister of State, Joseph Harmon when he appeared before the Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Natural Resources, in Parliament Chambers.
Answering questions posed by Head of the Committee, Member of Parliament, Odinga Lumumba, about the need for a better system for land reclamation with regards to the mining sector, Minister Harmon affirmed Government’s commitment to this process.
According to Opposition MP, Lumumba, there is legislation, “but it is not firm.” Lumumba pointed out, “You have to have a policy which clearly states that this is the way that you are going to reclaim the land after you complete your job. This must be put in the agreement before you start operations.” The former Presidential Adviser added that land reclamation can see lands being used in innovative ways such as creating man-made lakes for sport fishing and recreation.
Responding to the query by his Parliamentary colleague, Minister Harmon acknowledged that it was easier for large companies to fulfill this obligation and enforce these regulations. “The question is about our will to enforce those regulations and the fact that we need a stronger enforcement mechanism, within the Ministry of Natural Resources, in terms of forest rangers and other people who can insist and ensure that the companies do what they are required to do under our law.”
Minister of State Joseph Harmon responding to questions from the Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Natural Resources, at Parliament Chambers
Minister Harmon explained that finances permitting, these vacancies would be filled shortly.
Minister Harmon also emphasised that Government is aware that more needs to be done and spoke of several pieces of legislation to accommodate the legal framework needed to ensure these requirements are adhered to.
The Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Natural Resources comprises Minister Harmon, Minister of Communities, Ronald Bulkan; MP Jermaine Figueira; MP Audwin Rutherford and Opposition MPs – Lumumba, Pauline Sukhai, Yvonne Fredericks and Neend Kumar.
Land reclamation remains a sore issue in the mining sector. Many communities have been left with scarred landscapes after mining concessions were exhausted and operations moved to other locations. Communities such as Mahdia have been left with many pits and these were not refilled. These formed breeding grounds for mosquitoes and the increase in the spread of malaria.
The Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) recently embarked upon reinforcing the amendment regulations, 2005, for environmental management. This instantly created an impact in the community, by curbing the pollution of water ways and encouraged soil reclamation and replanting of trees in deforested areas.
The Minister of State appeared before the Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Natural Resources to make a presentation to the Committee on the following areas; Land Titling, Climate Change, Sustainable Development and Science and Technology.
Minister Harmon was accompanied by a team of technical staffers from various departments of the Natural Resources Ministry.