Lebanon News

Kataeb rejects pleas to lift landfill siege

Bailed garbage piled up in Burj Hammoud, Wednesday, June 8, 2016. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: The Kataeb Party vowed to press on with demonstrations against the creation of the Burj Hammoud landfill Tuesday, calling on the town’s municipality and the Tashnag Party to join them in rejecting the dump’s construction.

“I hope the Tashnag Party and the Burj Hammoud municipal council will go back on their decision to accept the landfill and protest with us to find solutions,” Kataeb Party activist Raja Najeem said in a televised news conference from the site of the landfill.

Shortly afterwards, the Tashnag Party released a statement carried by state media saying that it and the municipality have decided not to receive any trash as of Wednesday at the Metn coast.

The party said that while they rejected the coast being transformed into a waste dump, they were also against the accumulation of trash outside the landfill as that caused more environmental damage.

Earlier in the day, Agriculture Minister Akram Chehayeb ripped into the Kataeb Party for blocking access to the site of the landfill, thereby threatening the emergence of a new trash crisis.

Kataeb activists rejected that notion.

"The threat that the trash will go back to the streets is not realistic. ... We will continue our protests in Burj Hammoud," said Michel al-Hrawi, who is the party’s leader for the Metn district.

At the same news conference, the Lebanon Eco Movement announced its decision to join protests held by the Kataeb Party against the creation of the landfill.

The movement’s head Paul Abi Rached said there were less costly waste management solutions, but the government needed to sack Chehayeb and the trash committee.

Abi Rached commended the Kataeb Party for leaving the government in June to stand up to corruption.

“You are harming our food security and our future, and you are responsible through your projects for the failure of our touristic season,” he said.

“We will continue demonstrations in Burj Hammoud so no damage will be inflicted on us or the local residents,” Hrawi added.

For almost two weeks, the Kataeb has been holding regular protests outside the landfill's entrance.

The rallies have at times turned violent, with the Kataeb Party youth group clashing with police and blocking the landfill’s entrance.

Last week, party chief Sami Gemayel called on the Lebanese people to stand by him in ending what he said would bring "10 years of environmental damage" to the area.

In March, the government claimed it had resolved the eight-month garbage pile-up on the streets of Beirut and Mount Lebanon.

As part of the plan, the infamous Naameh landfill had been reopened for two months to take the decomposing waste that had piled up on the streets.

Trash is now being taken to storage lots in Costa Brava, south of Beirut, and to Burj Hammoud, to the capital's east, where new landfills are being built.





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