September 28, 2016

Large acreage rice lands destroyed by salt water in Region 2

Rice burnt in the Westbury area

Rice burnt in the Westbury area

– D&I department lacks materials to repair damaged sluice

Scores of rice farmers in the Westbury and Dartmouth areas on the Essequibo Coast are bitterly complaining about the intrusion of salt water onto their rice lands.

The farmers are counting their losses as they are unable to reap anything this crop. During a visit to the area Monday rice farmers related that the Region Two (Pomeroon/Supenaam) Administration has failed to address their concerns in a timely manner.

According to them, the sluice door at Westbury is falling apart and despite several reports to the regional office nothing has been done. They explained that the door was leaking and the administration sent planks to stop the flow of water. The farmers explained that the planks were a swift intervention but it needed to be bolted down.

“Just a simple augur to use to bolt down, the administration don’t have, and because of that the water broke away into our lands. Who would compensate us?” a rice farmer wanted to know.

When this newspaper contacted Regional Vice Chairman Nandranie Coonjah, she said that indeed the sluice at Westbury is faulty and that she visited the area recently and sluice is in a dilapidated state.

According to Coonjah reports were made to her by the D&I workers but there is limited resources and building materials.

The vice chairman added that there is presently a shortage of maintenance materials in the D&I department. Coonjah however noted if the planks were bolted down then the lands could have been saved.

According to reports over 24,000 acres of rice lands are under cultivation out of 36,200. Recently a team headed by Region Two Chairman Devanand Ramdatt accompanied by Coonjah visited the backdams in February. During that visit the team noticed many crops damaged due to the intrusion of water.

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