Lebanon’s Eco Movement released drone footage on Tuesday showing the construction site of the controversial Jannah dam where works continue despite the order of cessation issued by the Governor of Mount Lebanon Fouad Fleifel last week.
I can personally confirm the validity of this footage as I was in the area over the weekend. Residents of surrounding towns, namely Lassa, told the Newsroom Nomad that works stopped for a few days following Fleifel’s decision, only to resume shortly thereafter.
The order of cessation was issued in light of objections voiced by both the Environment Minister and environmentalists last week as Cabinet held a session whereby the Jannah dam was supposed to be discussed. The decision stipulates that all works be halted until Cabinet reviews and issues a final resolution in this regard.
Environmentalists are demanding that construction works be stopped indefinitely, citing major concerns that could prove detrimental to the area specifically and to Lebanon at large if the project goes through. Cabinet has said that it will address the issue during this week’s session in what may be a do or die situation.
Concerned officials and proponents of the dam say that the objections are politically motivated and if construction works are to be stopped, then the government may be entirely dissolved.
For the sake of lending an ear to all parties, I followed up on the counter arguments of dam proponents as presented through a television program that tackled the issue last night. The Free Patriotic Movement’s OTV discussed the Jannah dam on “Billa Hassana” whereby various opinions were sought. The FPM has been very vocal in terms of support for the project alongside the Progressive Socialist Party.
According to FPM MP Hikmat Deeb, all points of objection as presented by environmentalists have been addressed, adding that the beneficial outcomes of the project have yet to be taken into consideration by opponents when it comes to the general overview. Deeb insists that the positives by far outweigh the negatives, stating that the order of cessation, as issued by the Governor of Mount Lebanon, cannot override the Cabinet’s  decision in this regard. The opinion of geophysicist Ata Elias was also solicited whereby he reassured that all seismological concerns, which he raised during his assessment of the site, have been addressed. Environmental journalist Bassam Kontar on the other hand reiterated the need for further studies, saying that alternative means for water conservation must be investigated.
To read a detailed account on the impact of the Jannah dam, click here.