Local September 20, 2016 | 8:02 am

In devastated highlands, Environment issues dire warning

Constanza, Dominican Republic.- Environment ministerFrancisco Dominguez on Monday warned that public officials who allowsettlements in protected areas face legal penalties.

He said the law stipulates prison for settlements in aprotected area, starting with the official who allows it.

He said the Dominican Agrarian Institute, the AgriculturalBank, the National Water Resources Institute and the Agriculture Ministry havebeen instructed that they cannot sponsor illegal projects in mountainous areasor reserves.

"There cannot be any funding in areas that killed thewaters and the productive sector of Constanza; we must protect it, and it hurtsthat we have to protect it from ourselves," Dominguez said to dozens ofpeople in that town during the presentation of an environmental recovery plan.

He said the priority is to rescue the Juan Bautista Perez RancierNational Park (Valle Nuevo), where he will seek to integrate the government’s socialprograms with farmers who will be displaced from there. They will also betrained to work in other productive activities.

As to existing infrastructure, Dominguez said it will notbe destroyed, because they will not "enter into a process of irrationality,"but no new projects of cabañas and greenhouses.

He said the individual struggle for water continues in Constanzaeven reaching the birth of rivers and the highlands, that will soon become adesert without water for anyone.

He also warned that extractions of materials from rivers won’tbe allowed. “The pursuit of individual wellbeing cannot be detrimental to thecollective, such as in Constanza, where a group of producers undermine tjenatural resources.”

"Some have accumulated a lot of money and will probablyleave their bank accounts apartments in the capital to their children and will goto live in the Capital 5, 10 and 15. And the entire town of Constanza? And thecommon people?" the official asked.

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