Local October 1, 2016 | 11:15 am

Three or 4 highland farmers worth millions ‘keep the nation’s wealth’

Santo Domingo.- Environment minister Francisco Dominguez onFriday slammed the “three or four producers with millions in income” keep the nation’swealth.

The official was referring to farmers in and near ValleNuevo, Constanza (central), who were issued a 120-day deadline to harvest theircrops, dismantle everything and “go elsewhere.”

He warned to expect a campaign of disinformation, "claimingpersecution against farmers, but all that is a lie, it’s simply that statelands are exploited to benefit a few."

Interviewed in the National Palace, Dominguez acknowledgedthat those producers have a lot of power and money, but warned that the situationcannot continue. "There are strawberry plantations, short-cycle crops,flowers, and all that has to disappear, they sequester the water, use illegalwells, all that has to disappear, Valle Nuevo has to regain its role ofprotected area and we to promote that area is the source the main provider of water."

He said many of those areas have been deforested "andfor us Valle Nuevo is a priority, it’s the water for all of us it’s the futureof our children. That’s what at stake here."

Dominguez recently ordered the removal of plantations,commercial flowers, orchards and all farm animals out of the area, as well asthe dismantling of pipes, and irrigation and storage systems installed, except forthree small wells that can supply water to fight forest fires.

The deadline forms part of several measures adopted by the Co-ManagementCouncil of the protected area called "Mother of the Waters."

Waterfall languishes

One of Constanza’s tourist attractions and the Caribbean’shighest water falls is down to a trickle.

Among the most visible damages caused by illegal farming inValle Nuevo figures the once mighty Aguas Blancas waterfalls, whose formertorrent of some 30 meters has been recently reduced to a trickle with pollutantsvisible on the surface of its over 20-meter deep pool.

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