The Valley of Bisri is one of the valleys through the Mount Lebanon mountain chain, and its rich nature, harboring numerous natural gems, is known as the Nahr El Awali. It spans from Chouf to Saida and through Jezzine. It displays unique geological and ecological features as well as sensitive agricultural practices and archaeological remains; ancient places of worship that date back to previous historical periods.
A Dam project in the Bisri Valley, which was financed by the Government of Lebanon, the World Bank, and the Islamic Development Bank, was set to be implemented by the Council for Development and Reconstruction, risking to cause massive destruction of all the area that is on active seismic faults.
That Bisri Dam project could be more devastating than the 7.1 earthquake magnitude that had hit the same area in 1837. It will destroy the whole valley of Bisri, six million square meters of forests and agricultural lands.
Consequently, it will lead to the dismantling of some 50 archeological and historical sites, eradicate tens of villages, and put at risk the lives of their residents. The consequences also include the displacement of many who would lose their homes and the lands that constitute their breadwinning source.
With a total disregard for the horrible consequences, based on the Study Warning That Lebanon Could Face a Massive Disaster from that construction, the project was being implemented.
Numerous protests by locals and environmental activists took place in the Valley to try to stop it. The villagers organized picnic and hiking events to introduce the people to this beautiful valley and raise awareness.
From her side, MP Paula Yacoubian considered that “the project represents an environmental massacre in every sense of the word." She proposed a repetitive accelerated law aimed at halting all works related to the Besri Dam and Lake and their annexes in order to avoid damages resulting from the project.
In her recent post on Facebook of a letter she addressed to the Lebanese head of Parliament, she stated that the alleged benefits far outweigh the damage that this dam will have environmentally and culturally. It is about time that MPs start listening to the demands of the people.
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