Local November 27, 2014 | 8:10 am

Sectors seek to privatize water, Environment chief warns

Santo Domingo.- Environment minister Bautista Rojas on Wednesday said the government cannot hand over a strategic asset like water to the private sector, as some sectors would line and whom in his view are behind the failure to enact the Water Act which has languished in Congress for over 12 years.

"I think there’re interests behind it, ranging from an interest to privatize water services, which has to be unacceptable for Dominican society and government agencies. We cannot hand over a strategic asset such as water to the private sector,” the official said.

He said the Civil Service Act is clear when it assigns the roles of government agencies regarding water, which in his view should remain in the hands of the Environment Ministry.

In that regard, Rojas said the recovery of several large and small endangered watersheds which have been impacted by intensive farming and deforestation is a government priority.

He said that’s the reason behind contracting peasants to reforest devastated areas, with a pledge to leave behind subsistence farming, which he affirms earns them as little as RD$20,000 per yearly harvest.

He said until the Territorial Organization Act is passed, he asked president Danilo Medina to issue a provisional executive order to substitute river basin lands used for grazing and subsistence farming, for cacao plantations.

The official also deplored the lack of conservation of the Jigüey Aguacate river basin, which is managed by a State-owned agency, since in his view, is being given a populist use. "I regret to say the populist use that is given to the service, not the scientific use, for the proper work to be done. When we visit we sometimes find crews working on other things which have nothing to do with conservation."

Quoted by elcaribe.com.do, Rojas cited the case of Haina River, where he affirms aggregate companies cause serious damage to its banks, and affirmed that Environment will soon take more drastic measures, helped by the Defense Ministry.

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