Indian Immigration Monument at Palmyra has been unacceptably delayed

Dear Editor,

The Indian Action Committee (IAC) having made numerous enquiries through meetings and correspondences with the Government of Guyana (GOG) regarding the installation of the Indian Immigration Monument at Palmyra, is sensing some amount of confusion surrounding the project and therefore seeks clarification.

The IAC raised the matter of the monument with H.E. President David Granger in August 2016 and noted its desire for the project to be completed in time for the centenary of the end of Indian Indenture-ship which was observed in March 2017. The IAC was advised to meet with the then Permanent Secretary of the Ministry responsible for Culture, Youth and Sport, Mr. Alfred King.

The IAC later in September 2016, met with and was informed by the First Secretary of the High Commission of India, Mr Tashi Dandi Bhutia, that the bronze components of the monument had arrived in Guyana. He also noted that the Government of India (GOI) suggested technical persons from India for the overlooking of the installation.

The IAC also met with former Minister within the Ministry of Education with responsibility for Culture, Youth and Sport, Nicolette Henry, in July 2017. While the honourable Minister did not provide an exact timeline for completion, she gave the assurance that the installation would be ready by early 2018. She also pointed out that “soil testing was not done on the land” and there was a lot of outstanding work.

Minister Henry stated that the bronze components were in safe keeping and a sum of $100M had already been allocated for the project which the government had planned to complete as early as possible.

The IAC, in January 2018, met with Minister Dr. George Norton, who assumed responsibility for Culture, for an update and was told that he submitted a detailed investigative report with recommendations from the Ministry of Public Infra-structure (MPI) to the High Commissioner of India. Minister Norton asserted that he was not in a position to give a definitive answer but noted that he would raise the IAC’s concerns with his government.

Through an article that appeared in the Monday, June 04, 2018, edition of the Stabroek News, the IAC learnt that the MPI will now oversee the construction of the monument base with completion expected in time for October. While the IAC would welcome, even though cautiously, this new development, it adds to the perceived confusion as to what really transpired to prevent the completion of the monument.

The IAC would be challenged to hide its disappointment as the monument remains incomplete as two major milestones passed; the 100th anniversary of the abolition of Indian Indentureship and the 180th anniversary of the arrival of Indian in Guyana observed on May 05, 2018. The IAC believes that the completion could have been effected at least for the second milestone had the efforts been sustained despite the setback of the collapsed foundation.

The IAC therefore seek some answers regarding the role, if any, of the GOI henceforth including the presence of its Engineers; if the construction of the monument park is catered for in the new deadline as reflected in the newspaper article and if the time period between now and October is adequate for the quantum and thorough work needed.

Also it would be remiss of the IAC if it doesn’t politely ask if the much anticipated visit to Guyana by the Honourable Prime Minister of India, Narendra Damodardas Modi had not been reportedly scheduled for November 2018, if this intervention would have been forthcoming given the extensive delays over the years.

Yours faithfully,

Saira Alli

Secretary/Coordinator

Indian Action Committee

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