Lebanon News

Zahle municipality revokes permit for controversial cement factory

A general view of the eastern town of Zahle. (The Daily Star/Nassif Seif)

BEIRUT: The controversial cement factory being built in Zahle by the brother of MP Nicolas Fattoush will most probably not be completed, the city's mayor told The Daily Star Friday, saying that the municipality has revoked its construction permit after a public outcry against the project.

“We made the decision to revoke the permit a week ago, and we have notified all the relevant authorities,” Zahle Mayor Joseph Maalouf told The Daily Star.

The original decision to allow for the construction of the cement factory owned by businessman Pierre Fattoush was made on Oct. 31. But local citizens and influential politicians have since put pressure on the municipality to revoke its decision over environmental and health concerns.

The mayor said that his decision to revoke the permit has reached Industry Minister Hussein Hajj Hasan, who has a final say on the matter.

Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea had warned Friday the Fattoush family against building the factory, saying the project would have a severely negative effect on the health of Zahle’s residents.

Geagea called on Hajj Hasan to revoke the license and stop the plan.

Zahle’s officials and lcoal leaders also expressed their opposition to the project Friday.

Former Zahle MP Elias Skaff, who is Nicolas Fattoush’s political rival, is also against the construction of the factory, and held a demonstration last week against the plan.

In a statement released Friday, Skaff thanked those who came out to the protest, and made special mention of Future Movement leader Saad Hariri, who he said helped organize the event.

The controversial project started out as a local issue but received national attention about two weeks ago when more than a dozen gunmen loyal to Pierre Fattoush assaulted an Al-Jadeed reporter and a cameraman as they were wrapping up a report about the plant.

On Friday, Al-Jadeed reported that one of the attackers was also behind the shooting of a man from the area of Shmestar, near Zahle.

The report said the attacker, from the Khouri family, was one of three people who shot a man in his testicles and then kicked him after he fell to the floor.

The victim is currently being hospitalized at AUBMC, and his condition is “extremely risky,” the report said.

 

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