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Pickersgill says no politics in water distribution

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

THE Government has no intention to use water for the alleviation of drought as a political tool, Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change Robert Pickersgill says.

Responding to a statement from Member of Parliament for North Central Clarendon, Pearnel Charles, that he was willing to prevent water trucks from driving through his constituency to truck water solely to drought-stricken People’s National Party (PNP) communities, Pickersgill said Charles was being “misleading and mischievous”.

“The member of parliament ought to know of a request by letter dated February 28, 2012 from the secretary manager of the Clarendon Parish Council to the permanent secretary in the local government ministry seeking financial support for the trucking of water to drought stricken areas, including the constituency of North Central Clarendon,” Pickersgill said in a statement.

“The ministry responded by requesting a list of affected areas. The areas of Mocho, Chapleton and Rock River… including 17 named districts, are from the constituency of North Central Clarendon,” he said.

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Pickersgill said an interim amount of $1 million was approved by the Ministry of Local Government in response to the request for $5 million from the Clarendon Parish Council.

“The council was subsequently notified of the approval, but to date the cheque is yet to be collected and the constituency of North Central Clarendon would have benefited from this allotment,” Pickersgill said.

“The country should note that as a matter of course the Met Office advised that the country is experiencing meteorological drought in six parishes… consequently, in keeping with the normal practice, I took a submission to Cabinet requesting the sum of $50 million to deal with the trucking of water. This amount was derived as a combined request from a number of parish councils.”

He said that Charles ought to know that in the past Cabinet has approved funding to mitigate drought stricken areas as a matter of course.

He said yesterday Cabinet approved the sum of $50 million to finance the trucking of water to the parishes which are currently experiencing meteorological drought as defined by our Met Office.

“This includes the constituency of North Central Clarendon which stands to benefit from an allocation in excess of $1 million,” Pickersgill said.

Yesterday, the Observer reported that Charles was mad at what he said was a decision by the ministry to truck water to the three constituencies in Clarendon controlled by the ruling PNP and ignore the three held by the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party.

So upset was Charles by the decision, that he had vowed to prevent the trucks from driving through his constituency. He also said he could not guarantee their safety.

Related story:

Charles prepared to block water trucks on way to PNP seats

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