Guyana Geology and Mines Commissioner William Woolford yesterday said he will be sending in a team to investigate reports of damage to the Barakara Falls area as a result of quarry operations.
He told Stabroek News yesterday that BK International has an existing quarry licence for operations in the Mazaruni River area. He said the company also has permission to conduct other extensive works. Since he had no received any reports of damage in the Barakara Falls area, Woolford was unable to respond to any related questions. Woolford, however, said that he would send in a team to investigate the reported disturbance in the area and to ascertain exactly what is occurring at Barakara Falls.
Meanwhile, officials at the Land and Surveys Department in Region Seven said that the land in the environs of Barakara Falls in the Mazaruni River is state owned.
David Mohabir, who is a senior official at Lands and Surveys in Bartica, said yesterday that his office was unaware of any destruction at the Barakara Falls area within the past few weeks. He said the office conducts regular surveillance of the region on a monthly basis, but admitted it had been unable to do this recently because of problems with a boat.
Mohabir said the department would investigate what is happening in the Mazaruni area, but pointed out this would only be possible next week. He recalled that businessman Jad Rahaman had expressed an interest in a portion of land at Barakara Falls and that the application was denied. “I can’t remember what we told him but I know he was interested,” he added.
Mohabir said the land at Barakara Falls is stated-owned and that the Regional Council has oversight for the land. Although the area has a few private properties that the region has no control over, he emphasised the area where the Barakara Falls is belongs to the state.
BK International did not respond to earlier queries from this newspaper about its operations in the area and the impact on Barakara Falls. However, the company announced yesterday that it will field a media tour to the area today. Earlier reports indicated that Barakara Falls was under threat from quarry operations being conducted in its environs by the company and a few tour operators have raised an alarm saying environmental destruction to the land will ruin the falls, which has been a tourist attraction for years.
On Tuesday some tour operators complained about the current state of Barakara Falls owing to the operations being conducted in the area. They pointed out that the entrance to the falls has been largely inaccessible because of the recent development and they were forced to manually bulldoze through the area to offer services that they had earlier guaranteed customers.
Barakara Falls was barely visible following recent operations in the area with operators reporting activities which they say are destroying the environment. Graded-down vegetation and small ponds covered in debris currently capture what the area looks like.
Previously, the Regional Council at Bartica had turned down an application for a lease by Rahaman, who was seeking to maintain and protect the Barakara Falls area.