The Barakara Falls before it was destroyed.
Plan drafted for Barakara Falls restoration
Posted By Stabroek staff On June 20, 2010 @ 5:07 am InLocal News |
– BK stalls, cites inclement weather
The Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA) has drafted a plan for the restoration of Barakara Falls, which has been damaged by quarrying activities in the area, but there is no indication as to whether the initial works outlined would be completed by the timeline.
Director of GTA Indranauth Haralsingh recently met stakeholders in the tourism sector regarding the issue at Barakara Falls and it was agreed that BK International needs to focus on restoring the falls; a provisional timeline of June 30 was identified.
Haralsingh has identified two phases of the restoration project saying that in Phase One the company can clear and clean the area of fallen trees and debris, in addition to providing garbage receptacles and restoring the access pathway, while Phase Two would entail the construction of benabs, tables, seating chairs and signs.
Haralsingh had told Stabroek News recently that he was concerned about the damage done to the area, noting GTA would have gone into the area and made its own assessment of what happened there. He indicated GTA has a keen interest in the matter since it is the country’s tourist board and he had disclosed then his intention to meet stakeholders and to discuss the way forward.
BK International, which has committed to restoring the damaged area, has reportedly cited the weather as a hindrance to the restoration exercise and is asking for time before the project commences. The company has proposed August for the clean-up campaign. However, some stakeholders in the sector are calling on the company to act now.
Alisha Ousman, who has been proactive on the issue, is insisting that BK International complete some of the initial works outlined by the end of the month because of the expected influx of tourists in July. Ousman told Stabroek News that her company, Wonderland Tours, has bookings from July 1 for packages including the Essequibo River tour and according to her, “this is not possible when they are not cooperating”.
Ousman said she has and continues to lose business because of the destruction at the falls; the damage was discovered on May 2 and the falls has been inaccessible since. She said BK International has the manpower to complete the initial works in under a week, noting the works include removing the debris and restoring the pathway to the falls. According to Ousman, cut trees are still blocking the flow of water in the area and there is still evidence of the down-graded vegetation. She said the other enhancement works outlined in the GTA plan can be carried out over time, stressing the immediate need is for the falls to be how it was prior the destruction.
BK International committed to restoring the falls after a cease order was issued by the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) last month. The company reported that the heavy machine in the area was subsequently cleared out, but cited the weather as an obstacle to restoring the area. A representative of the company, who was present at the meeting with Haralsingh, reportedly said that work would commence on the falls in the dry season which is “some time in August”.
BK International was expected to report to the GTA on what the company intends to do at another meeting scheduled for last week, but the no representative of the company turned up. However, the company communicated that its position remains the same.
Some tour operators are suggesting that BK International can go in with smaller machinery, clear the area and have the initial works completed by the end of the month. July is the beginning of the peak season for local tours and there are serious concerns as to the impact on the industry if the falls is not restored at the end of this month.
BK International is currently operating in the Barakara Falls area and it recently expanded operations to the falls site; destroying the pathway to the falls in preparation for quarry operations there. The company, in its defence, argued it was forced to expand quarry operations in the area to meet the demands of the country’s building needs, which it argued currently exceed supply.
The company said it was operating in the national interest since it was “a development need” and announced it would develop another area in the Mazaruni River close to its quarry operations to serve as a tourist attraction site.
But Ousman challenged the company saying it was not authorized to conduct quarry operations at the site. Ousman openly criticized BK International for wrecking the environment in the name of money and said that it is the country which ultimately suffers. She had previously spoken out against the company’s operations in the area and called for an end to the destruction while at the same time drawing attention to the issue.
An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report conducted on the area back in 2005 had mentioned that the existing trail from the river’s edge to Barakara Rapid; the falls itself and the immediate watershed (1.6 km radius) would be protected from development activity. It also recommended that Linden Quarries, which is owned by BK International, in addition to securing the area from development “undertake intervention to enhance the site through clearing and maintenance of the trail, rehabilitation of footbridges, installation of signs, and perhaps the construction of small benabs around the vicinity of the rapid”.
Nota del editor del blog: Al referenciarse a la República Cooperativa de Guyana se deben de tener en cuenta los 159.500Km2, de territorios ubicados al oeste del río Esequibo conocidos con el nombre de Guayana Esequiba o Zona en Reclamación sujetos al Acuerdo de Ginebra del 17 de febrero de 1966.
Territorios estos sobre los cuales el gobierno Venezolano en representación de la Nación venezolana se reservo sus derechos sobre los territorios de la Guayana Esequiba en su nota del 26 de mayo de 1966 al reconocerse al nuevo Estado de Guyana .
“…por lo tanto, Venezuela reconoce como territorio del nuevo Estado, el que se sitúa al este de la margen derecha del río Esequibo y reitera ante la comunidad internacional, que se reserva expresamente sus derechos de soberanía territorial sobre la zona que se encuentra en la margen izquierda del precitado río; en consecuencia, el territorio de la Guayana Esequiba sobre el cual Venezuela se reserva expresamente sus derechos soberanos, limita al Este con el nuevo Estado de Guyana, a través de la línea del río Esequibo, tomando éste desde su nacimiento hasta su desembocadura en el Océano Atlántico…”