One of the biggest environment problem in Lebanon is the Quarries. Forests devastation, “eaten” mountains, water tablecloths freatic polluted, and virgin forests become disgusting! Quarries started in Lebanon during the after war period when it became really a disaster for people villages, environment and eco-tourism. An important dilemma started in 1999 when quarry of eco-touristic area Mazraat Bani Saab in the middle of cedars forest started! Today’s anniversary of the first cause won in the council of state 5 years ago for the seek of environment. This was the story: The problem started on September 1999 A quarry working inside the forest of Mazraat Bani Saab, making a disaster, the water got-up from the bottom of the ground, the cedars are destroyed, the whole region and people there are angry. This quarry was permitted by the Interior Ministry, it is located at the edge of a protected forest of Qnat. The law was overruled. Our attention started by calling to stop the quarry, many letters to the concerned ministers (of environment, of interior etc..).The European union had a project to rehabilitate three older quarries in the same region, while When EU officials went up to check on the project, they were shocked at another quarry opening up right next to the site starting their project they found a quarry working there..The concerned ministers responded to stop the quarry after pressures from our part. The media was always in our side.
A 1994 decree requires an environmental impact assessment before such a quarry is allowed to start.
3 weeks later, the quarry is suddenly reopened. Why? The interior ministry allowed the reopening of the quarry.
Meanwhile many demands of permits for quarries (more than 15 demands of different quarries) are deposited in the interior ministry and the ministry of environment. This will, of course, destroy the ecological site.
Those demands are reinforced by owners’ petition. Angry residents, however, were tricked into signing the owners’ petition, a petition whose contents were not clear. They targeted the elderly and illiterate to sign It. They thought it was a petition to bring water to their home.
After many efforts, the president of the republic ordered to stop the quarry.
The demands of permits for further quarries did not stop.
To continue fighting It is not easy, we know that the demands of permission for further quarries could be supported by political pressures.
The fight continued, We worked to make this region declared eco-tourist (Tourism inside ecology), a first site of this kind in Lebanon, this will stop the road to further permissions of quarries.
We arrived to this aim, with the minister of tourism who declared the decision Number 634/1999 On November 26 1999.
After less then 3 months, the minister wants to change his decision, it was a political pressure behind those owners of the future quarries.
We acted rapidly through meetings with the Prime Minister Selim El-Hoss and then with the President of the republic.
But It was too late. The minister of tourism (who is also a minister of environment) took another decision this one eliminating the eco-tourist site. It was on February 12, 2000. This second decision was numbered 26.
Through the media we made political pressure again.
At the court, we made attention to the law and decrees concerning the ecological patrimony of lebanon.. a revision was about of more than 50 pages deposited in the court.
We asked to stop the action of the last decision N 26 and getting back to the decision number 624 of Eco-tourisim Area till the last decision of the Council.
Finally we got back our decision N 624, the eco-tourist is saved till the end of the court.
During the year 2001, the Council of State court was revising all the papers deposited. We were waiting for the final decision. “We were enjoying to have our site saved, but till when”
FINALLY The case is won in the Council of state and a Jurisprudence was obtained: case law
number 298/2002. Congratulation to all who worked for this issue. Congratulation to our environmentalist activist and attorney Dr. Abdallah Zakhia.
Further to this independent case law, Dr Abi Saab went to its application with the Prime Minister Rafic Hariri to stop all the quarries in Lebanon till applying a standard. A ministerial decision sorted out the “higher commission of quarries” and very few zoning were applied through the country.
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