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The minister met the farmers at Parika Back Primary School on Friday. The meeting was arranged after an eight-member delegation visited the minister at his Georgetown office and raised several concerns.
The eight issues dealt with at the meeting were cleaning the Parika main drainage canal; capping the farm to market road; establishment of a playfield for youths; provision of electricity; grading the dam along the main canal; flooding in the area; pure water supply and the availability of land leases.
The minister took note of the issues and allowed some of the officers present to address these.
He was accompanied by Regional Vice Chairman of Region Three Mr. Ramenauth Bisram, Head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Mr. Bal Persaud, Research Scientist of the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI), Mr. Chetram Kissonchand, representative of the National Drainage and Irrigation Board (ND&IB), M. Roopnauth, ad Mr. Tulsie Ramdyal from the Lands and Surveys Department.
Addressing the issue of the cleaning of the main canal, Roopnauth said farmers made representation two weeks ago to the ND&IB after which an inspection was conducted by a surveyor, who assessed what needs to be done. Roopnauth explained that actual work will begin in January 2003 because tenders for the project will be advertised shortly.
However, farmers are asking for some immediate work to be done to prevent flooding when the rainy season arrives.
Farmers in the area said they are thankful for the improved road but the dust that is emitted from the gravel is a major concern. The road is approximately four miles long.
Mr. Bal Persaud said the only resolution to that problem is to cap the road. He explained that the dust is not a life-threatening situation, although it is a nuisance.
Persaud said the matter would be raised with the relevant authorities to see what can be done.
Minister Sawh mandated the Regional Administration to investigate the construction of the road to ensure that it is done according to specifications. He pointed out that the Government is investing a lot of money to construct roads but in some cases these are not properly constructed.
Farmers made representation for the dam on the eastern side of the main canal to be graded to allow easy access to their farms, but officials explained that that could not be done until the canal is properly cleaned.
Residents are calling for the playfield at Parika Back to be rehabilitated so that youths can be involved in sports and stay away from illegal activities.
Sawh said he would find out from the officials responsible for the President's Youth Choice Initiative if they can improve the existing playfield.
On the issue of electricity, the minister said he would discuss this with the Prime Minister who is responsible for the Rural Electrification Programme.
He pointed out that there are several areas in the country that do not have electricity, but the Government is working aggressively to provide power for everyone. He reiterated the Government's dissatisfaction with the work performance of the Guyana Power and Light Company.
A delegation from the area will meet Minister of Housing and Water, Mr. Shaik Baksh on Wednesday to discuss pure water supply. It was noted that pipelines have been installed and a proposal is being made for the drilling of a shallow well in the area.
Addressing the land lease issue raised by farmers, Mr. Ramdyal said he will investigate the matter and once the necessary paper work is in place the leases will be issued. He said those leases with additional problems will take a little longer to be sorted out.
Residents expressed thanks to the minister and his team for addressing their problems and bringing some relief to them. (GOVERNMENT INFORMATION AGENCY - GINA)