GEORGETOWN – The army, criticised for its presence in the protected Kaieteur National Park area, has vowed to continue to playing its constitutional role in eradicating illegal mining.
This came after recent joint services exercises which found 26 dredges, fuel and mercury in the area.
Over the weekend, at Mure Mure, the army also detained an Amerindian man, Anthony Melville and a cameraman from Capitol News, Rudy Morris, who had gone to video a signboard which shows the boundary of the park. Both have since been released as criticisms grew.
Several persons, including Amerindians, were arrested more than a week ago for mining illegally in the area of the Kaieteur National Park. Amerindian bodies protested the arrests.
Authorities later decided to drop charges against the miners, who were brought to the city after dispute arose over whether the lands were in the park.
The army has since been patrolling the area to ensure that there is no mining.
“The Guyana Defence Force wishes to make it pellucid that it is committed to supporting the efforts of the Protected Areas Commission (PAC) and the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) in their efforts to purge the Kaieteur National Park of illegal mining.”
The army said that the recent Joint Services exercise, ‘Operations Midas’, revealed the extent of the environmental degradation plaguing the park due to widespread illegal mining activities occurring within the boundaries of the protected area.
“The operation unearthed some 26 engines (dredges) among other pieces of mining equipment and environmental pollutants such as mercury, waste oil and silicone, which were being used indiscriminately by the illegal miners.”
The army disclosed that it has proposed a number of recommendations to PAC, including the erection of billboards to sensitise the public and visitors on the delineation of the park and prohibited conduct.
Among other things, it was recommended that there be improved monitoring of all aircraft landing at the location and the scrutiny of any accompanying cargo; the prosecution of all registered dredge owners whose equipment were seized by GGMC, the rehabilitation of all waterways that were deliberately diverted by the illegal miners and the temporary suspension of mining licences for those registered engine owners.
“The GDF is constitutionally obligated to support the maintenance of law and order and therefore, remains resolute in its stance of supporting our nation’s efforts in eradicating illegal mining at the Kaieteur National Park and the preservation of its environment. To this end, frequent surveillance will continue over this and other such protected areas.”