Soownauth Gorakh, whose illegal well erupted in Diamond Housing Scheme, East Bank Demerara in June, has been arrested by the police, who are exploring the possibility of laying charges against him.
‘A’ Division Commander Marlon Chapman confirmed to Stabroek News yesterday that Gorakh was arrested on Sunday and has since been questioned.
However, a decision has not been made on whether charges will be laid, Chapman pointed out, while noting that this would be done at the conclusion of the investigation.
In the meantime, the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) is continuing its efforts to drill a second relief well at the site to control the flow of water after the illegally dug well exploded for a second time recently. The illegal well started to discharge water, which compromised the area of operation and a result, the GGMC was forced to dig a relief well.
Senior Petroleum Technologist of the GGMC Mitchell Prince, who was overseeing the work on the second well, explained that the first one was completed and they were able to reach a depth of 100 feet. However, he pointed out that the single relief well would not be enough to control the flow of water and as a result, they have to construct another, at the same depth, about five feet from the first.
When questioned whether a third well will be required, Prince explained that he isn’t sure and wouldn’t be able to say until the second is finished. It should take just over a week. After it is done, Prince said he will be able to assess the situation properly and decide whether a third well will be needed.
On June 14th, the well erupted and ejected natural gas, mud and water up to 100 feet in the air. Gorakh had reportedly dug the well some time ago and was using it for domestic purposes.
Gorakh had claimed, via a statement issued by the Region Four Administration, that he and his wife, Tulabhaduree, had attempted to dig the well after experiencing water troubles. The woman has claimed that the family has suffered over $20 million in damages.
The Gorakhs’ immediate neighbours also suffered damage and their home is currently uninhabitable.
The Guyana Fire Service responded first and the Civil Defence Commission (CDC) subsequently took over the operation. However, acting Director General of the CDC, Lt. Col. Kester Craig told Stabroek News that the site has since been handed over to the GGMC.
Craig also noted that a report was submitted to Minister of State Joseph Harmon sometime last week with several recommendations, including that Gorakh, as well as the persons who drilled the well, be arrested and charged.
He also noted that it was recommended that suitable legal action against Gorakh and the driller should be determined by the Environmental Protection agency (EPA), Guyana Water Inc. (GWI), and the Hydrometeorological Department of the Ministry of Agriculture.
Also recommended was that a public awareness drive about digging wells and other related activities be conducted by the Department of Public Information, the GGMC, the CDC and the Ministry of Presidency.
“It was also recommended that the gases should be trapped using a mud-gas separator and put to use and either the GGMC or the Ministry of Natural Resources should take care of that. Currently the property is unstable and must be listed as unsafe and uninhabitable and the owner must be alerted,” Craig explained.
He added that there is also a recommendation for the amendment of the Water and Sewerage Act for there to be reasonable and updated charges which should be taken on by the Ministry of Communities, the Ministry of Legal Affairs and GWI, since currently Gorakh would only face a fine of $50,000.
It was also recommended that the owners of the affected properties file civil proceedings against the owner.