Friday, January 1, 1999
QUARRYING TO CONTINUE IN MT. LEBANON
by Fareed Abou-Haidar
Days after the new Lebanese government was formed in the wake of the inaugural of the new President, minister of the interior Michel Murr renewed the licenses of 18 quarries in the areas of Ain Dara and Dahr el-Baidar. These quarries are not far from Lebanon's biggest natural crown jewel, the 550-square-kilometer Shouf cedars preserve. Many are visible from the Beirut- Damascus highway for all to see.
Earlier in the year, the Ministry of the Environment had come up with a plan to designate 18 areas on the fringes of Lebanon for rock quarries. Mount Lebanon, which has had more than its share of quarries, would be relieved. Environment minister Akram Chehayeb even met with interior minister Murr and most of the details were agreed on.
Renewal of the quarry licenses is a slap in the face of the Ministry of the Environment and its plans, and illustrates the hard time the well- meaning then-minister Chehayeb had in trying to protect the environment in the face of powerful political forces.
The new government has pledged to put an end to corruption. By catering to the quarry people, it has started its campaign on the wrong foot.
Dismayed? Angry? Send an e-mail to minister Murr via firstname.lastname@example.org Specify in the heading that the letter is directed to minister Murr, as this is an intermediary. (IDREL is the site behind the weekly ShuFiMafi.) He himself apparently does not have an e-mail address. Also, President Lahoud has set up a special e-mail address for complaints as part of his new open-door policy. It's at email@example.com
Fareed's Home Page (with articles and photos on the environment in Lebanon) at http://members.aol.com/fdadlion/