A mega project approved despite environmental concerns
On hearing the news, Carlos Flores, one of the leaders of groups opposing the project, decried the failure of MARN to address environmental concerns which had been raised. Earlier this year, MARN had acknowledged questions about the hydrology impact of the development, but there has been no indication or published study results showing that those concerns have been addressed. According to Flores, the award of an environmental permit is circumventing the legal framework for managing such risks.
The online periodical Gato Encerrado has been following the Valle El Angel project closely for more than a year. Gato Encerrrado requested the documents underlying the decision to grant the environmental permit in an open information request, but was informed that the documents would not be released because they were confidential and related to agency decision-making processes that were not yet final. This despite the fact that the authorization published on the MARN website only requires the Dueñas group to pay an environmental impact bond before it can start construction. Gato Encerrado reported that MARN had been ordered by the Institute for Access to Public Information to provide additional information to the environmental groups, but MARN had ignored those orders.
The opponents to Valle El Ángel argue that this mega-project will cause the over-exploitation of already stressed aquifers which provide water for the surrounding region; that the project will prevent the re-charging of the aquifer as large areas of pavement prevent rainwater from infiltrating the soil; that the project will lead to discharge of waste waters into local surface streams; and that it will add to the traffic chaos which already exists in this area of greater San Salvador. In a nation already suffering from severe water stress, the government is granting rights to these private real estate developers to extract water at the rate of 240 liters per second, so they can build a luxury housing project.
We would sign it if small changes were made that would appear to be just of form, but they are important to guarantee that the environment is taken care of, which is what the Agreement intends, without preventing the development of our countries, which lack development. In other words, we cannot stop building houses.
|Local opponents to project met Saturday to review next steps.|