A hundred meters away from the vital Litani River, some dead cows are decaying on top of a mountain of waste and filth that is being effortlessly absorbed by a very fertile agricultural land.
It is common knowledge that lands adjacent to streams and rivers are fertile and perfect for agriculture; they are viewed as a valuable and vital resource, as are the streams themselves.
However, this view apparently does not apply in Gazza, a Lebanese village in the Beqaa Valley.
Because in that village, which sits near the Litani, the municipality has deemed that the lively piece of agricultural land beside the important river is the perfect spot for an open dump.
More than 5,000 square meters of highly-absorbent soil is now enriched with the toxins expelled by the disgusting stacks of waste of all kinds of forms.
In those deathly piles can be found various household and medical wastes, carcasses of cows and other animals, and lots of leftover chicken and meat, all of which rot under the sun for hours every day.
And the terrifying part of this is the fact that the cancer-causing substances that come out of these wastes find their way right into the Litani, which provides drinking water for the Lebanese citizens, irrigation for plants, and nourishment – if it can be called that anymore – to freshwater fish and animals.
Needless to say, these plants and fish, in turn, ultimately end up on dinner tables and get ingested by unsuspecting people, including vulnerable children.
The amount of toxins and diseases that this disturbing dump is introducing into the homes and bodies of the Lebanese people is utterly horrifying, and the same goes for the ecosystem.
In response to this horrific crime against the people and the environment, the Litani River Authority has filed a lawsuit against the Municipality of Gazza.
The lawsuit demands that the Municipal Council removes the existing waste near the Litani River and refrains from introducing or burying any new waste.
It also demands to “rehabilitate and repair the water environment or the ecosystem in the area or perimeter that the defendants polluted.”
For such a crime, the law suggests 1-10 years of prison or paying a fine that ranges between 700 and 7000 times the minimum wage of Lebanon.
It is a must to point out that crimes done unto the environment such as this one are crimes against humans. People are an indivisible part of their environment of which their very lives also depend.
The pollution of the Litani River and the disregard of the authorities towards it is not a new issue. Activists and conscious citizens have been calling for years now to save the river and the people in the region from the cancerous hazard.
Instead, the disregard of those in charge continues with the intentional “creation” of this massive waste dump; a 5000 m2 releasing poisonous toxins that the residents, the river, the land(s), and the air are absorbing.