Hizbullah, AMAL MPs Throw Support behind Controversial Dam Project
MPs Ali Ammar and Amin Cherri of Hizbullah’s Loyalty to Resistance bloc and MP Mohammed Khawaja of AMAL Movement’s Development and Liberation bloc on Wednesday announced that the two blocs support the continuation of the controversial Bisri Dam project, describing attempts to block the plan as a “water siege.”
“The dam was constructed according to scientific studies whose feasibility is clear,” Ammar said at a joint press conference in parliament, responding to arguments that “the dam is not successful scientifically.”
“We raise the voice high towards this targeting of a large segment of the Lebanese that they want to suffer thirst. All allegations and fabrications are being rallied all the way to the claim that the World Bank is colluding,” Ammar added.
Warning that citizens’ water security is facing an “internal attack,” the MP warned that the two blocs “will not allow the thirst of our people.”
“We categorically reject this new water siege on our people and we will not tolerate it no matter what it takes,” Ammar went on to say.
Later on Wednesday, al-Mustaqbal Movement leader ex-PM Saad Hariri also voiced support for the controversial project, saying it would provide much-needed water supply to Beirut and noting that there is no alternative.
The Democratic Gathering parliamentary bloc of the Progressive Socialist Party meanwhile reiterated its rejection of the project, explaining that is has reversed its initial support for it in light of reports and studies highlighting its "huge harm and risks" in addition to its "uselessness."
The government says the Bisri dam is vital to tackling chronic water shortages.
But activists say it will ravage most of the region's farmland and historic sites, and they also fear the consequences of building it on a seismic fault line.
Construction of the Bisri dam is expected to cost $617 million (560 million euros), with most covered by a World Bank loan.
The authorities and the World Bank have said the dam will meet the needs of 1.6 million residents suffering from water shortages in greater Beirut.
They insist the structure will be safe and that measures will be taken to lessen seismic risks.
The World Bank says the dam will have no impact on Lebanon's overall biodiversity, promising to offset any loss in Bisri with reforestation and "enhanced management" of the Chouf, a separate region nearby.
They have also pledged to dismantle a small church and rebuild it somewhere else -- a proposal rejected by activists.