By Fareeza Haniff
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Guyana and Brazil have embarked on a pre – feasibility study of the Upper and Middle Mazaruni areas to determine the potential of hydropower development in the area.
The study will commence in early April and will last for a year, after which the actual feasibility study will commence, all at a cost of US$45 million.
The studies will be conducted by a consortium of two Brazilian engineering companies, which will focus on the possibility of developing a hydropower station in the Upper Mazaruni with a capacity of about 3,000 megawatts and another in the middle Mazaruni with a capacity of 1,500 megawatts.
At a press conference on Monday, March 24, Prime Minister Samuel Hinds told reporters that the government has already started ‘briefings’ with the political parties, private sector officials and the National Toshoas Council on the issue, while consultations commenced in the surrounding Mazaruni communities in Region 8.
According to PM Hinds, during consultations with residents in the Upper Mazaruni, they expressed the fear that there will be complete flooding of the area as was predicted in the 1970s design of the project.
However, the residents were assured that this would not be the case with the new design of the project.
“We informed them that with the advancement of technology there is a totally different approach with the design which would reduce the reservoir area significantly in the vicinity of 90 percent or more in comparison to the 1970s design. This has been confirmed by a preliminary review that has been done by the consortium,” Hinds told the news conference.
He further explained that the Guyana government will not pursue the project if it will affect the lives of residents in the area.
“We assured the communities that this government will not pursue the construction of any Hydropower Station if it required extensive flooding of villages, which would have been the case in the 1970s. We explained that the studies need to be done now so that we can move to the next stage.”
Meanwhile, Minister of Foreign Affairs Carolyn Rodrigues – Birkett told the conference that the consortium will be responsible for securing funding for the hydropower project, and the royalties will be paid to Guyana.
Guyana is hoping that Brazil buys its fuel once the project gets off the ground, and that money can be put towards constructing the Linden/Lethem road, Rodrigues – Birkett said.
The Foreign Affairs Minister also noted that she does not foresee any issues developing with neighbouring Venezuela when it comes to the disputed Essequibo region and the hydropower development plan.