Beirut : Beirut Municipal Council (BMC) postponed discussions about its waste incineration terms amid protests bu hundreds of civil society members and MPs last week.
Civil society groups, activists and MPs representing different political parties and independents took to the streets to contest Beirut Municipality’s plan to set up waste incinerators inside the capital to solve the trash crisis. They demanded a halt to discussions on the project due to its negative consequences on the health, economy, environment and the society.
Demonstrators voiced serious concerns, and MPs ramped up their protests outside BMC’s headquarters at the time when the voting was due to take place.
Activists and MPs voiced their concerns using loudspeakers and playing patriotic music before news broke about the decision to remove the suggestion from the minutes of the meeting.
Later BMC’s President Jamal Itani said the discussions on the waste incinerator’s book of terms, which sets the criteria for carrying out tenders, had been postponed due to concerns raised by council members from the Lebanese Forces [LF] and Free Patriotic Movement [FPM], and not the protesters.
“We want anyone who has comments to submit them, on the condition that the comments are scientific,” he said.
Beirut officials and the Environment Ministry have supported setting up an incinerator to handle Beirut’s waste but the move was vocally opposed by some MPs.
Independent MP Paula Yacoubian said: “Waste incinerators are disastrous and should be stopped. We all know that when it comes to politics, they all fight, but when it comes to deals, they all agree. We have proposed draft laws on the issue of waste management, laws that are more scientific and healthier.”
Gulf News spoke to BMC Member Huda Usta Kaskas, who said there was still a lack of clarity on the postponement by Itani during the meeting.
“In a televised statement he said he received two requests from LF and FPM representatives to stop the vote. We didn’t know the LF had submitted any request. On behalf of the National Dialogue Party, I submitted a request to postpone the discussion of the waste incinerator’s book of terms due to different concerns. We cannot approve the book of terms if there is no clear location … based on the location there will be an assessment and feasibility study. The factors were all mainly dependent on the location,” Huda told the newspaper.
Amongst the protesters was BMC’s Vice President Elie Andrea who said: “We refuse the incinerators whatsoever.”
Kataeb MP Nadim Gemayel said: “Waste incinerators have no religion and no colour. We refuse them in any area because of their horrendous hazards.”
BMC member Gabriel Ferneini said: “A book of terms is presented to us, which does not specify a location [for the incinerator], an environmental impact study or an economic feasibility study. We cannot but say no.”