Hydromet still to decide on action over unauthorised well

The state of Swoonauth Gorakh’s yard as of Wednesday

The Hydrometeorological Office has not yet decided as to whether charges will be laid against the Diamond resident who dug an unauthorised well in his yard, a source says.

A collaborative effort continues between the Civil Defence Commission (CDC), the Guyana Water Inc. (GWI), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) and other stakeholders as they prepare the site for the capping of the well in Diamond, East Bank Demerara.

When Stabroek News visited the site on Wednesday, not much was going on in terms of cleaning or recapping the exploded well. However, some of the materials, including the metal pipes which will be used to reverse-engineer the well, were seen at the site.

Representatives from the CDC and the other stakeholders were also present, monitoring the situation. While most of the cleaning was finished, the rear of Swoonauth Gorakh’s yard was still plastered with sludge.

The pipes which will be used cap the well in Diamond.

However, some activity could still be noticed coming from the well, as the sludge which surrounds it, continued to bubble as though methane gas was still being pushed out from underground.

Since the man did not have permission to construct a domestic well in his yard, it has been suggested that he might be liable to charges from the Hydrometeorological Department of the Ministry of Agriculture and the EPA.

However, a source from the hydromet office related to Stabroek News yesterday that the officials have not made any solid decision as to whether they were going to proceed with legal charges, given that the man also suffered major losses.

“What’s happening is that we are looking at our options in terms of what we can do within the framework of the law. It is not a real criminal offence and it’s a Guyanese, so we tend to be a little lenient. The circumstances, having evolved as it has, would result in some sort of pity towards the resident. Right now he’s distressed and when he started he thought the exercise would’ve been a regular exercise without any inconvenience to himself or his neighbour,” the source explained, while pointing out that they are exploring the option of having the man pay for the clean-up and the damage by himself.

Gorakh’s wife, Tulabhaduree, in a statement issued by the Region Four administration last Saturday, had said that while the extent of their damage cannot be determined as yet, they have estimated that it amounts to over $20 million.

Gorakh, who has been using the well for a number of years, had claimed via the statement that he and his wife had attempted to dig after experiencing water troubles.

The source also related that while the Hydromet department is mandated to monitor and license the  different wells around the country, they do not have the capacity and resources to effectively discharge their duties.

“In terms of policing our department doesn’t have that capability to go around and check to ensure that persons are digging wells without [a] licence. Yes, we were given responsibility under the Water and Sewerage Act of 2002 CAP 30:01, but we still have a need for resources like everybody else within the Public Service. We still have to discharge our duties whenever we have to do it, but we wouldn’t know if anyone drills a well but we have information out there on how they should proceed,” the source added.

Last Thursday, the domestic well in Gorakh’s yard exploded, sending water and natural gas gushing more than 100 feet skyward. Shortly after, clay and other materials gushed out and plastered Gorakh’s home and his immediate neighbours’ yards and homes, causing severe damage.

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