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BK takes GGMC, EPA to court over granting of quarrying license to  “Shell” Mohamed

New quarrying licenses to be issued to several companies

BK Quarries Incorporated has instituted a lawsuit against the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Hadi’s World- a company owned by Nazar “Shell” Mohamed which it says has no expertise in quarrying.

The 500-page lawsuit which was recently filed seeks an injunction to prevent Hadi’s World from occupying or taking any steps to develop 16,500 acres of land recently awarded to it by the GGMC as four quarrying licences. BK Quarries is owned by Brian Tewarie.

In court documents filed by BK International who is represented by Attorney-at-law Siand Dhurjon, BK Quarries complains that despite objections, GGMC and EPA went ahead and grant the four licenses for 16,502 acres of land to Hadi’s World for quarrying operations. The lawsuit detailed that Hadi’s World had only applied to the GGMC for the license in December 2020.

In the lawsuit, BK Quarries contend that EPA illegally waived the requirement for Hadi’s World to have to perform an environmental impact assessment of the four quarrying operations when it found that the operations ‘would not significantly impact the environment’.

According to the company, the decision to award a company that does not own a single crusher, quarrying license, was made although BK Quarries has applied for a quarry license since August 16, 2018, for a portion of the said area awarded to the Hadi’s World.

BK Quarries submitted that it was issued a  prospecting license for the said portion since 2014, a license which remains in force up to today. BK said it has been carrying out exploration and developmental works on the prospecting license since 2014.

BK Quarries said that on December 30, 2019, it was written to by the Commissioner of GGMC, Newell Dennison who informed that its application for a quarrying license at Itaballi was being processed. The company said that the Commissioner even pointed out that the area it applied for was “a considerable expanse of land” and it would be required to reduce it.

Having reduced the size of the area to operate under by 50 percent, BK Quarries said that it had been in constant communication with GGMC since 2014 over the progression and development of this project. Among other things, the company stated that in January 2021, it was informed by GGMC that all quarry licenses extant and otherwise will be reviewed by its Board.

Shockingly, on February 6, 2021, BK Quarries noted it observed that the GGMC had published in the Official Gazette, its notice of intention to grant four quarry licenses to Hadi’s World of Lot 29 Lombard Street, Georgetown over the areas covered in its application.

According to the company, it protested to GGMC on the basis that the award is unfair, unlawful, and unacceptable. The company said, too,  that several letters sent to the GGMC by its lawyers have gone unanswered.  As such, it contends that GGMC’s decision to award quarrying license to Hadi’s World was made unilaterally by Commissioner Dennison.

“It boggles the mind that the EPA would waive the requirement for an EIA for the issuance of four contiguous quarry licenses that cover a stunning 16,502 acres. This is an area that is five times the size of the capital city of Georgetown and almost four times the 4500 acres that were approved for BK Quarries Inc. in the same place,” BK argues.

According to the company, on June 15, 2021, Minister of Natural Resources Vickram Bharrat hosted a ceremony for the signing of four quarrying licenses, along with four EPA permits “which were then personally handed over by him to the principals of Hadi’s World Inc.”

Considering this, BK Quarries complains that it did not benefit from equality of treatment under the law by state agencies which is in breach of the Constitution of Guyana.

The company further complains that GGMC had ‘a serious’ concern that it could not use and occupy some 9,000 acres for quarrying operations whereas the GGMC has licensed Hadi’s World to use over 16,500 acres for quarrying operations.

BK deposes, “This is in spite of the fact that Hadi’s World Inc told the government entities that its quarrying operations would only utilize less than 1,000 acres combined across the four licenses covering the 16,500 acres of lands given to them for quarrying operations.”

The Claim filed by BK Quarries also alleges that the Board of the GGMC was biased and in favour of Hadi’s World’s application as a result of a close relation to a director of Hadi’s World.

Among the orders being sought by BK International, is an order of certiorari quashing the decision of GGMC to grant four quarrying licenses to Hadi’s World. The company is also seeking an order of mandamus to compel the GGMC to take all necessary steps to see the favourable processing for a quarrying license which was applied for by BK Quarries back in 2018.