Finance Ministry approves flood relief funds
Priority attention for Region Four
Stabroek News
January 9, 2004

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The Ministry of Finance has granted an undisclosed sum in emergency relief for flood-affected regions based on a request submitted by the Ministry of Agriculture yesterday.

Regions Two, Three, Four and Six were granted immediate relief while the Agricultural Ministry is awaiting results for Regions Five and Ten.

Floods caused by near record rains over the New Year have disrupted many communities on the East Coast Demerara and caused damage to crops and loss of livestock.

Speaking at his second press briefing in as many days, Minister of Agriculture, Satyadeow Sawh said his ministry had received indications from the Finance Ministry that the request was favourably received and work would start immediately on an emergency basis.

Sawh said Permanent Secretary, Dindyal Permaul acted expeditiously following talks on Wednesday and applied for the appropriate relief which was granted in less than 24 hours.

Sawh commended the quick action of the Finance Ministry and added that the appropriate sums of money would be allocated. He said that the water level at flood-hit areas was receding and added that strong sunshine and reduced rain over the past two days were helping.

According to Sawh, he has authorised works to begin in Region Four and the relief would also assist with drainage and irrigation in Buxton.

Chief Executive Officer of the National Drainage and Irrigation Board, Ravi Narine said a contract would be awarded by tomorrow for excavation works to be undertaken at Clonbrook to repair the malfunctioning sluice. He said the pump under repair at Cane Grove would be in operation today.

He added that parts for the vandalised pump at Buxton would be acquired by next Wednesday and pointed out that Chairman of Region Four, Allan Munroe had located a rented pump to be used in the interim. Permaul said the money released by the Finance Ministry would depend on the scope of the problem, with Region Four being a priority. He noted the Agriculture Ministry intends to approach the situation in a comprehensive way and would not commit to an estimated figure.

The funds being allocated are part of the 2004 budget but are being released on an emergency basis.

Meanwhile, the PNCR at its weekly press conference yesterday said it considered the situation on the East Coast as quite grave and would expect any responsible government to declare a national emergency and provide compensation to all those who had suffered losses.

The party said a team had toured the villages and saw that "the general health situation is frightening".

According to the party, a systematic investment in pumps, with adjustments being made periodically to allow for the changing situation was needed to stem the rapid deterioration of drainage capacity on the East Coast.

The PNCR said that in President Bharrat Jagdeo's maiden address to the nation in 1999 he had said that he had instructed that immediate steps be taken to ensure that measures were put in place to prevent flooding on the East Coast.

What were those steps? The PNCR queried.