Villagers accuse Govt of pussyfooting around

first_img…object to Agriculture Research Centre due to lack of consultationFor the residents of Nappi Village, Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo), it seems as though the wait for the Government to grant them their proposed extension is a never-ending one, ultimately resulting in hindered development and lack of access to resources.Nappi had applied for an extension to their titled land and the land titling process began since 2015, under the Low Carbon Development Strategy-funded Amerindian Land Titling Project, which is spearheaded by the Indigenous People’s Affairs Ministry.Residents at the meetingLast week, a high-level team comprising of the President and Vice President of the National Toshaos Council (NTC), the Regional Chairman, the Indigenous Representative on North Rupununi Development Council and the Opposition Member of Parliament for the region met with the villagers to discuss the way forward. At the meeting, it was decided that the leaders will continue to press the Indigenous People’s Affairs Ministry to ensure the issue of the proposed extension is addressed at the earliest time possible.“The residents were concerned about the proposed extension and that is what they brought up at that forum and they want it addressed urgently,” Regional Chairman Brian Allicock said during an interview on Tuesday.At the meeting, NTC’s Vice President Lennox Schuman told villagers that they are ready to stand with the village in their fight to have their extension granted.“The extension for Nappi sits under an agreement between the Government of Guyana and the Kingdom of Norway and based on that agreement the Government has an obligation in principle and in finance to grant Nappi its extension and that is between the Kingdom of Norway and the Government of Guyana,” Schuman told the residents.“We haven’t seen a lot of support for Nappi extension although there is a legal obligation,” he added.The residents have since related their discontent with the manner in which they are being treated as it relates to their extension and the proposed agriculture research station to be built on the proposed extension.The Government, with funding from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), proposed to construct an Agriculture Research Station and water catchment area in the satellite village of Pirara.However, the villagers are accusing the Government of failing to satisfy the Free, Prior and Informed Consultations (FPIC) protocol as mandated by the IDB.They claim that they were never informed that the station would be on their proposed titled extension and called for a revisit of the process. At last week’s meeting, the leaders heard that the research station was initially supposed to be built in the Manari area but was subsequently shifted to Pirara which is located approximately 40Km North of Manari.In relation to the shift, Schuman told the villagers that they have already begun engaging the IDB with the intention for a revision of the proposal.“About five weeks ago, we engaged the IDB on this very project and the first thing that came out in relation to the land, the IDB will not fund any project that infringes on the rights of Indigenous peoples. In order for this project to go ahead in its current state, they have to meet the FPIC criteria… If the land is titled the IDB will require from each community expressing their consent,” he informed.“Before any economic development in any Indigenous village, we must have a people process first. We have identified that the people process has failed. I support the call for a revisit of the people process to ensure that people understand the document,” he added.Additionally, Allicock said the proposed area for the agriculture research station is not suitable since it means the Government will be utilising over 200 acres of wetlands ultimately affecting the biodiversity in that area.The team is expected to have another consultation session by the end of April after which they will engage the Government.Just in February, Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman commissioned a water reservoir on Nappi lands. The reservoir was constructed after the Rupununi area suffered a severe drought back in 2015/2016, drastically affecting the livelihood of the residents. The new reservoir has been professionally engineered and designed by JR Ranch Incorporated and is buttressed by an 860-metre dam and has the capacity to hold 4.5 million cubic meters of water.The water catchment area is a public-private partnership between the Government and Cataleya Energy Limited. The project was proposed by the Natural Resources Ministry and funding, $1.2 million, was provided by Cataleya Energy Limited. JR Ranch Incorporated was hired to construct the reservoir while Conservation International designed the programmes for the usage, upkeep and maintenance of the water catchment area.last_img read more