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State companies quarrying illegally
Since 2008, National Quarries Limited and the Estate Management and Business Development Company (EMBDC) have been operating quarries without ownership of the lands, mining licences, or the necessary contracts, Agriculture Minister Clarence Rambharat revealed yesterday.
He described the two state entities as among the biggest defaulters in the quarrying sector but said the Ministry of Energy is taking steps to regulate them and grant the necessary licences.
Rambharat, who spoke at rehabilitation project at National Quarries grounds in Valencia to mark United Way’s National Day of Caring, detailed the extent of illegal and unregulated mining across the country and recounted a recent visit to Windsor Park where he viewed destruction caused by such activity.
“It is the taxpayers’ money that will be spent to correct this illegal quarrying,” he said.
“The persons who gave permission to operate quarries have no responsibility, as well as the persons who did the mining and worst of all not one cent of royalty was received.”
On the issue of hunting, Rambharat said he wants to encourage sustainable practices that protect wild life but understands that from Matelot to Marac, hunting is an economic activity.
“While I like hunting, I am the minister that imposed the most restrictions on hunting and very many more to come,” he said.
While conceding that the benefits from rehabilitation projects like the one in Valencia will be seen in 20-30 years, Rambharat expressed concern about the ministry’s reforestation programme which has been in operation for mamny years, because although some $22 million of taxpayers money is being spent a year, he is “yet to see the value.”
The minister admitted that he has been struggling for two and half years to see the balance between the 3000 jobs created and the value generated by that project.
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