Illegal mining in Demerara RiverWeeks after an alleged illegal mining operation was unearthed in the Demerara River, residents of Linden have joined in calls being made by officials to remove the two draggers which were placed at Watooka, Mackenzie, Linden, Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice).The operators of the equipment were instructed by Police to remove them until relevant documentation is provided; however, Chairman of Region 10 Renis Morian indicated that this was not done.To date, Morian noted, the miners have not produced an Environmental Impact Assessment, which he reiterated is a necessity for such activities.Residents and officials, including Chairman of the Linden Chamber of Industry Commerce and Development (LCICD) Victor Fernandes have since expressed concern over mining activities in the region’s waterways, citing health and environmental risks as reasons for their disapproval. Fernandes said while development is necessary, it must not be at the expense of the people.“As the voice of the Private Sector… our concern majorly is environmental, which is everybody’s concern. The environmental issues are genuine concerns for us and I think members of this community, we would like to know what are the environmental considerations in the first place in terms of issuing licences,” Fernandes told the media.Linden resident Gomar Wilson said he is dissatisfied with the situation, noting that if it continues, the people will take action. As such, he has issued calls for the equipment to be removed, noting that some residents are not in support of the mining activity.Wilson added that if it is not removed by the end of the month, there will be consequences. Another resident, Oscar Hector cited health concerns, noting that residents, including those in Indigenous communities depend on the river’s water for their livelihood.Taxi driver Robert Greene in voicing his concerns believes environmental laws and procedures should be followed as it relates to mining in the Demerara River.He further stated that if miners are to come into the community, they must get clearance from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and if such is not done, then the operations can be deemed as a violation.Meanwhile, Divisional Manager of the Guyana Water Inc (GWI) Rawle Friday explained that should there be any water mining mishaps, approximately 18,000 residents who depend on the water system can be adversely affected.Friday said the GWI would have taken interest in the mining activities, given the risks of contamination.Further, he added that in Linden, there are three water treatment plants which extract water from the Demerara River and there is no capacity to deal with contamination caused by harmful chemicals. These plants, he noted, serve around 18,000 people collectively.Officials have already noted that residents, mainly in Indigenous communities along the river, stand to be affected by the mining operation. Already, there is some amount of activities occurring in the river.A number of persons, including nine Brazilians were questioned and released by Police in connection with the activity which was shutdown weeks ago by Police and regional officials.The Regional Chairman noted that upon inspecting documents presented by the miners, he realised that some of the Brazilians were overstaying their time in Guyana which by itself is a criminal matter. In addition; those who were legal did not have the necessary work permits.