Chairman of the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) of Region Four, Clement Corlette, says there is virtually no groyne at the Hope koker and this has been cited by nearby residents as a prime cause of the heavy siltation there.
The Hope koker is the main drainage source for the swamped Dochfour community which has been under inches of floodwater for 23 days.
In an invited comment yesterday, Corlette admitted that the groyne was “among the causes” of the Hope koker becoming easily silted. The groyne, Corlette explained, is an old structure that has been there for a long time and is badly “degraded”.
According to the RDC Chairman, at a National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) meeting the groyne was discussed extensively and a long term project will be embarked upon to “reinstate” the structure. For the time being, he said, the only solution was to ensure that the koker’s outfall was continuously desilted.
Meanwhile, the heart of Dochfour still had inches of stagnant water although a tractor pump has been operating since Sunday. Corlette conceded that “all the water has to be moved” since it has “started to get a funny smell”. Although floodwaters have receded slightly in the eastern section of Dochfour it simply refuses to budge in other areas.
However, Corlette stated that the flood in Victoria is not a result of the inches of mud removed from the village’s West Side Line Dam. He blames the flood on the recent heavy rainfalls which have cause the level of the canals in the village to increase.
“I am not accepting that the excavating of that dam is responsible for the flood in Victoria. It is due to the large volume of rainfall,” Corlette stressed.
The RDC Chairman explained to this newspaper that the dam had been examined on Sunday and it was then that it was discovered that “22 areas” of the dam had been breached. However, Corlette said, works to repair these breaches started yesterday and will continue today.
Cane Grove rice fields still swamped
Rice fields at Cane Grove are still swamped in inches of water and farmers reported that they have not yet received assistance from the Guyana Rice Producers Association (GRPA) or any other organisation.
When this newspaper had visited the community on December 16 farmers had already lost acres of the crop to flooding caused by heavy rainfall during that period. Farmers had blamed their losses on the mismanagement of the drainage and irrigation system in the area.
Stabroek News had learnt that in addition to two existing tubes another had been placed beneath a dam separating the Melville rice fields from those located in the Savannah. This resulted in the fields of the Melville farmers becoming swamped.
The Savannah fields, farmers had explained, are higher than the Melville fields and the tube is causing all the accumulated water from the rain to gush into their fields. “The fields over at the Savannah are higher so what is happening is the Melville fields have become a basin where all the water is accumulating,” Latchman Sarjue, a farmer who lost about 10 acres of rice, had explained.
As a result of the situation the Minister of Agriculture, Robert Persaud, had visited the area and ordered the additional tube removed. However, when this newspaper visited Cane Grove yesterday it learnt from farmers that the tube had not been removed.
Ramgopaul, Group Promoter of the Cane Grove Water Users Association, had told Stabroek News he was responsible for installing the additional tube to drain the rice fields located in the Savannah. The Water Users Association, he explained, was established in 2003 and was responsible for maintaining secondary drainage and irrigation in the area.
The Group Promoter’s decision was heavily criticized by the farmers since, according to them, he was draining the minority at the cost of the majority. Farmers yesterday stated that Ramgopaul did not remove the tube because he told them he didn’t have the proper machinery available.
“I don’t know how he can’t have the machinery available…how he install it in the first place?” Farmer Hemchand Singh questioned. “He tell us that he going to remove the tube when the dry season start but we can’t wait ‘til then.”
Efforts made to contact Ramgopaul about the situation yesterday were futile. Meanwhile, Corlette told this newspaper that since they had received no further complaints from farmers they had assumed the tubes had been removed.
According to Corlette, there were three tubes located at the dam; two with 10 inch diameters and the larger with a diameter of 24 inches. It was ordered that the smaller tubes be removed, Corlette said.
Further, the pumps at the Cane Grove Drainage Station had ceased operations shortly before 4 pm yesterday. Attendants at the pump station told this newspaper that this was due to “low voltage”.
“We can’t do anything about this problem…we have to wait for GPL (Guyana Power and Light Company) to fix it. We have no back up power so the pumps won’t work ‘til we get back the electricity,” the pump attendant explained.
This situation has only added to the frustration that many farmers are experiencing. They explained that although the compensation they received after the 2005 Great Flood was “nothing much” they were still willing to accept what could be provided to them this time around.
When informed of this Corlette told this newspaper that he was “not aware of any form of compensation” being offered to these people and has not heard of any discussions pertaining to the subject.