BEIRUT: The residents of several villages in Metn reiterated their disapproval Thursday of a controversial plan to install high voltage power cables in their towns.
They lashed out at caretaker Energy Minister Gebran Bassil, who accused them of disrupting a plan that would allow the country to have 24 hours of electricity.
Bassil had said Wednesday that the plan to establish 24 hours of energy supply across the country would not be finalized unless network cables were installed in Mansourieh and held the residents of the area, who are resistant to the idea, responsible for depriving the entire country of electricity.
The national energy network, which extends over Mansourieh, Daishounieh, Ain Najm, Ailout, Beit Mery and Ain Saade, has been in the works for over a decade and seeks to connect supply lines in the Mkalles power plant to another one in Bsalim. Consolidating power between the two plants would facilitate supplying more electricity to surrounding areas.
But residents of the Metn towns, located along the path of the cables, were worried that the rerouting would have adverse health consequences, affecting children in particular. They, along with civil society activists, urged the government to alter the project by placing the cable lines underground.
Responding to Bassil’s comments the residents lashed out at him, saying he was making false accusations to cover up his shortcomings.
The residents said Bassil was “making false accusations [about the residents] to justify his failure to secure a 24-hour supply of electricity, something he promised three years ago.”
The statement added, “If this [Metn] section of the project is as important as the energy minister is alleging ... He would have replaced the high tension aerial cables with safe underground cables, in line with international standards ... that’s what the residents have been demanding for a while now.”
The residents addressed Bassil directly, saying “Enough with fraud, deception and false accusations and enough wasting time. Our stance is firm and we won’t allow the cables to be installed [above ground].”