Amerindian lands distributed without permission – Toshaos

first_imgMany Indigenous leaders have expressed disdain over the fact that their lands were distributed for mining operations without their knowledge.Many have also vented frustrations over environmental damage, coupled with rampant illegal mining, in their communities, which they said are affecting their livelihoods.These revelations occurred during sessions held on the third day of the National Toshao Council (NTC) Conference, where it was echoed that villagers are met with “disrespect” due to the lack of consultations.Junior Natural Resources Minister Simona BroomesA section of the National Toshaos Conference on WednesdayOne Toshao from Region Eight (Potaro/Siparuni) voiced concern over the large quantity of land being granted for small-scale mining, making special reference to a concession awarded for mining which is due to expire till 2017.“Our land is over 80 per cent covered with medium-scale mining concessions…this (referring to a concession) shall remain enforced until 25th June, 2017,” the Toshao explained.He further noted that other miners are also conducting operations without the necessary documentation; and appealed to the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) to address these matters.“There are miners who working all over, just claiming that, that is their place [with] no documents shown…[the miners] are polluting the waterways which we use actually everyday to go and fish; and it’s filling up the river,” he noted.John Andrew, Tosaho from Micobe Village in Region Eight, said his entire land was “mapped out” for mining, without the council’s permission. He also lamented the disrespectful manner in which villagers are treated.Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman was called on to provide explanations as to why leaders were not consulted before the lands were distributed.“Mining our lands and water without permission makes it difficult for us, the Village Council, to oversee that these miners apply best practices,” the Toshao noted.“The residents of Micobe Village are still awaiting an update on an investigation on a map that carries a GGMC logo showing an entire mining block, showing our entire land covered by mining blocks which we are not aware of or never gave permission,” the Indigenous leader revealed.He noted too that leaders should be updated on the findings of a team that recently visited the area on a fact-finding mission.Responding to the myriad of issues raised, Trotman told the Indigenous heads that there would have been additional meetings with the relevant stakeholders to address their concerns.Speaking directly to the Micobe Toshao, the Natural Resources Minister explained that the team that was dispatched to the community is in the process of preparing a report. He stated that while Government is “committed” to addressing the problems that come before it, he cautioned that “solutions may not always be immediate.”One Toshao from Marudi Mountain spoke of the dire impact the extractive sector is having on his community. He pondered the steps which Government will take to reduce the environmental impact by small and illegal miners, an issue which has been plaguing the community for some time.In April, stakeholders approved and signed an agreement aimed at charting the course forward for mining in the Marudi Mountains in Region Nine; this would have likely resolved “the conflict that had escalated between large-scale mining company Romanex, miners, and several communities in South Rupununi,” last year.Late last month, however, many Toshaos in the area revealed that many tenets of the agreement were being violated.Junior Natural Resources Minister Simona Broomes told the Government Information Agency (GINA) that the situation “had worsened” after the agreement was signed.last_img read more