Second rice crop in Cane Grove hit by flooding … Seeraj indicts regional authority for neglecting drainage canals

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JUSTICE of the Peace, Mr. Patrick Ramdass, on behalf of rice farmers in the Cane Grove, Mahaica area, says that a significant amount of rice under cultivation for the second crop of 2013 has been lost through flooding in the area.

In a telephone interview with the Guyana Chronicle yesterday, he said that there is flooding in the area because the pump which should be used to drain the water is inoperable as it has no fuel. He added that the culverts in the area are also blocked up and bridges are impassable.
In the meantime, General Secretary of the Guyana Rice Producers Association (GRPA), Mr. Dharamkumar Seeraj, has pointed out that the main reason for the flooding is because drainage canals in the Cane Grove, Mahaica area are in a poor state due to the negligence of the regional authority.
Ramdass related that the rice fields have been flooded for the past week and noted that complaints have been made to the regional chairman and the overseer, but so far there has been no solution to the issue.
He further stated that he has received word that Seeraj is making arrangements for some 500 gallons of fuel to be sent to the area for the pump.
He also stated that there are issues even when the pump has fuel and is fully functional. He said that most of the time, the workers who are responsible for its operation do not work on weekends and holidays and this also creates some problems for the farmers in the area.
Ramdass stressed that he is not attacking anyone, but rather, believes in making “constructive representation”. He said that he is hopeful that the situation will soon be rectified and there will be some relief to the farmers.
Meanwhile, also in a telephone interview with this publication yesterday, Seeraj stated that the pump in question has since received fuel.
He explained that there are two pump stations in that area; an electrical one in Mary’s Hope and another at Huntley. He said that the one at Huntley was without fuel for a while but has since received fuel and is operational.
According to Seeraj, the drainage canals in the Cane Grove, Mahaica area are in poor state due to the negligence of the regional authority and that is the main reason for the flooding.
He noted that because the canals are not cleaned regularly, they are clogged up and the water cannot flow to the pump to be drained out.
He said that the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) is now stepping in to clean the canals, adding that this is an intervention that the authority has had to make several times before.
Seeraj stressed that the NDIA should not have to intervene as often since the maintenance of the canals is the responsibility of the Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC).
However, he confirmed that some farmers in the area have indeed suffered some losses since some paddy seedlings sown for the next crop have been uprooted due to the flooding.
Meanwhile, the Guyana Chronicle contacted the Region 4 (Demerara/Mahaica) Regional Chairman, Mr. Clement Corlette who claimed that he has been informed by the overseer that there is no flooding in the area.
According to Corlette, the water is a bit high but there is no flooding. He said that the pumps are working and some additional fuel is expected to be in the area soon.