Lebanon's PM forms new committee to tackle Litani River pollution

The document states that the new committee, which will be headed by the premier, should include representatives from 11 ministries

  
Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Hariri gestures during the Paris Peace Forum after the commemoration ceremony for Armistice Day, 100 years after the end of the First World War, in Paris, France November 11, 2018. Thomas Samson/Pool via REUTERS

Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Hariri gestures during the Paris Peace Forum after the commemoration ceremony for Armistice Day, 100 years after the end of the First World War, in Paris, France November 11, 2018. Thomas Samson/Pool via REUTERS

BEIRUT: Prime Minister Saad Hariri has formed a new committee in order to tackle pollution in the Litani River. A document from Hariri’s office showed that a decree from Jan. 31 stipulated the creation of a ministerial committee to “tackle pollution from the source to the mouth of the Litani River.”

The document states that the new committee, which will be headed by the premier, should include representatives from 11 ministries, the head of the Council for Development and Reconstruction, the Litani River Authority director and others.

Last month, Industry Minister Wael Abou Faour issued a decree setting out the aims of a newly formed joint committee between his ministry and the LRA.

The joint committee aims to limit industrial pollution of the Litani River by monitoring some 800 licensed and unlicensed factories in the Bekaa region, the head of the LRA’s water governance department, Nassim Abou Hamad, told The Daily Star.

But Hariri’s new committee will be responsible for the entire length of Lebanon’s longest river and tackle pollution of all kinds including household sewage. It will also address systemic problems contributing to the river’s pollution.

“This is a ministerial committee whose task is to tackle problems on a higher level,” Abou Hamad said, adding that committee members will address issues such as funding for industries that contribute to pollution. It is not clear if a date for the first committee meeting has been set.

Also Monday, the LRA sent a memo to the South Lebanon Water Authority saying it had begun sampling the quality of water flowing from Lake Qaraoun into the river’s lower basin, the state-run National News Agency reported.

The samples will be examined in coordination with the Lebanese University’s Faculty of Public Health.

Water from the lake began overflowing into the Litani Sunday, after its volume had reached 219.7 million cubic meters, or 858.02 meters above sea level.

As the lake begins overflowing, the river’s spillage is expected to reach more than 100 cubic meters a second because of heavy rainfall over the weekend and increased flow from ancillary springs and tributaries, a statement from the authority said.

Friday, the authority’s head Sami Alawieh had written to governors in south Lebanon, Nabatieh and Bekaa, advising them to warn residents to avoid the river’s lower basin from Monday.

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