Tony Vieira's Comments
18 October 2017

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E.P.A
(Aired 15 September 2002)

   The Environmental Protection Agency was set up by an act of parliament No.11 of 1996.

   The act and the bill sought to protect the public by making it illegal for anyone to build or destroy anything that will have an impact on the environment or the persons who live around these intended constructions/expansions.

   The EPA act sought to regulate any industrial or commercial activity which impacts negatively on the natural environment or any use that can be made of it.  

    It also stipulates that anything done to the environment should not harm or cause material discomfort, or, affect the health of any person. It also states that nothing done by any person shall impair the safety of any other person regardless of how it affects our total economic status as a nation.

   Any Guyanese can contact the EPA at the Institute of Applied Science and Technology Building at the University of Guyana, and they are required by the law to give any member of the public, any document or documents they request regarding any works being done anywhere in the country which can have the potential to cause material discomfort to any citizen.

   So if some company or individual is building or doing anything that interferes, or has the potential to interfere, with any person or his environment, you have a legal right ladies and gentlemen to ask for the Environmental Impact Study for those works, and if there is none or if there is non compliance, you can ask the EPA to intervene and stop it.

   Recently it was drawn to the attention of the EPA that a local company Didco was implementing expansion which can have this effect. And notwithstanding vigorous opposition by the EPA and the public, Didco refused to be subjected to these regulations.

    Ladies and gentlemen I hardly ever, go after a local private sector company, since I have always held that the private sector should be used as the engine of growth in this country and mostly they need my help since their rights are being trampled upon by someone in the government. But when a private sector entity decides to break or bend the laws of this country, in the pursuance of its economic well being, I have to speak out.

   Didco has almost single-handedly destroyed the local poultry industry in this country over the past 15 years, they have imported Chicken for example from the US at prices which had lead to the demise of many local poultry farmers. Now amidst much fanfare, Didco has declared that they will resuscitate the local poultry industry by introducing newer, better and presumably cheaper methods of growing Poultry which virtually gives them the monopoly in chicken rearing in this country. So after subjecting this nation to the potential of increased levels of salmonella in our food from this imported chicken which even Time magazine told us had a very real danger of being contaminated with salamonella, Didco now decides that they will grow their chicken here in Guyana. Does the term hypocrisy have any significance for the people at Didco? Apparently not!

      They have now refused to follow the basic rules of the EPA and are building a chicken farm on the highway which can have the effect of upsetting the eco balance of the Emerald Towers and Splashmins tourist resorts by creating the potential for chicken dung to contaminate the ground water and consequently the creeks in the area, they have consistently refused to cooperate with the EPA, have even refused to give them simple information about their proposed development which can allow the EPA to arrive at any sort of conclusion whatsoever, that what they are doing will not pollute the creeks in the area.

   Under pressure by the EPA DIDCO have approached the President and Dr. Luncheon to assist them to muzzle and hog tie the EPA. This is not the first time that this has happened, why do we make laws which will be broken by the executive, especially since the executive in this country have been known to be guilty of every conceivable sort of lawlessness.

  Ladies and gentlemen every Guyanese in this country is affected by this lawlessness, let me give you a concrete example which I have before me and which is properly documented. Hundreds of people of all ethnic backgrounds send me letters daily, because of these commentaries, complaining of injustices meted out to them, but few of them are documented in a manner which will allow me to comment without fear of committing liable or defamation.

   This matter on the west coast of Demerara concerns a person who can only be described as completely oblivious of the responsibilities of ownership and a poor woman who is being subjected to complete contempt by the person who offends. Now both of these people are Indo Guyanese but one has access to economic power and the other does not.

     It concerns a company called Daevon and an Indo Guyanese woman called  Saffie Alli, Saffie built a house opposite the Vreed en Hoop police station some 5 years ago, and now the owner of Daevon, one Karran Ganpat has commenced construction of an illegal structure in front of Saffie's property.

   I have in my possession the objection of the district council which points out to the regional health authorities that what Ganpat was building was riddled with illegality. I also have in my possession letters telling the Regional Council and its chairman one Mr. Dookie an ex schoolteacher from Leguan, apparently once you can read you can become Chairman of a Region in this country, you do not have to have one days experience as a manager anywhere in commerce in this country. I would not hire Dookie to run a cook shop for me and neither would you, but our government hired him to run the West Demerara, Essequibo Islands Region for us.  

   Also coming under attack in this investigation, is one Mr. Dundas the Regional Environmental Health Officer, who disregarded a letter to him from the district council dated 24th June 2002 telling him that the structure being built was not approved by the Central Housing and Planning authorities, the letter was copied to Mr. Dennis Muir chief environmental office ministry of health, no one did anything.

    The Regional Councils in this country do not understand their democratic functions and in general overrule district and neighborhood councils, for no other reason than they have been bribed to do so, they also starve the district and neighborhood councils for money which is subvented to them by central government and the district and neighborhood councils have virtually no say, in how the money will be spent in the regions.

    So Chairman Dookie, the Best Pouderoyen district council pointed out to you that Mr. Ganpat was breaking the law, that he was building a structure which was not authorized by the central housing and planning authority and it is recorded in the district council's minutes of 20th august 2002 that a delegation went to see you on 14th August 2002 and informed you there were serious breaches of the law in the construction of Ganpat's business premises, so why have you done nothing to give justice to Ms. Ali, especially since Mr. Ganpat is not renowned for building safe structures, since over the past few years a number of his properties have burnt down, This is a person who should be forced to follow the letter of the law to its last dot.

   DIDCO must stop building whatever they are building on the highway until they establish for MY benefit that they are complying with the requirements of the EPA, and Mr. Ganpat must dismantle those parts of his building that breaks the law.