A vision buried at Nadur cemetery

April 6, 2013

times

Saturday, April 6, 2013

A vision buried at Nadur cemetery

Alfred E. Baldacchino

The Archpriest of Nadur applied for the development of a cemetery on May 20, 2002. An outline development permit was issued on January 28, 2004 and a full development permit, valid for five years, was granted by the Malta Environment and Planning Authority on May 31, 2007. An appeal was submitted by Nature Trust on July 16, 2007 and works on the cemetery started in summer of that same year.

2012.10.00 - works in progress while the appeal keeps being postponed

Work in progress on the cemetery while the appeal board deliberated

The following documented data was made available to the Appeals Board: The development is in an ODZ (outside development zone).

There never was any public consultation.

EU Water Framework Directive obligations regarding ground water were not taken in consideration.

The locality is designated as an area of high landscape sensitivity and a land of agricultural value according to the Gozo and Comino Local Plan.

Technical staff at Mepa repeatedly recommended a refusal for such development.

Refusal was also recommended by the planning authority’s Heritage Advisory Board.

The proposed cemetery lies within the catchment area of one tributary that feeds Wied Għajn Qasab, one of the most important in Gozo.

This 6,500-square-metre cemetery footprint is on upper coralline limestone (garigue), overlying blue clay that contributes to a perched aquifer covering 5.6 square kilometres, “filtering on a good rainy season 16,000 gallons (73,000 litres) of potable natural water daily at Għajn Qasab springs”.

It is estimated that the recharge of water through percolation or infiltration amounts to 785,109 cubic metres annually.

The water catchment area around the cemetery covers 33,000 square metres.

The rock formation contains various faults, crevices and fissures, which channel rainwater to the farmers’ cisterns.

The fields dependent on the aquifer have been used for agricultural purposes for hundreds of years.

The engineering works regarding water use and storage, including bell shaped wells, galleries, channels and cisterns, date back to the time of the Knights of St John. Such network has been physically destroyed or rendered nearly useless by the cemetery.

The report by the geologist appointed by the developer, indicated that the project is unlikely to have an adverse impact on the water resources.

No hydrologist’s report was ever submitted.

The precautionary principle, a guiding principle in the EPA 2011, was completely ignored. The developer reports that the cemetery plans to cater for 643 graves, despite the fact that only 50 persons die annually in Nadur, some of whom are buried in the old cemetery.

The commercial value of the cemetery’s footprint estimates each grave at €4,000 at the time of the submisison of the appeal in 2007, showing the commercial vision of the project.

A number of letters were officially, personally and publicly written to the Prime Minister and to the minister responsible for the environment.

A number of social entities, farmers and the public expressed disapproval both of this development and of the way it was being handled.

The appeal case was heard and postponed for 19 times and, finally, a decision date was appointed for September 27, 2012, only to be postponed again.

The legal representative of the farming community wrote to the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal, emphasising that postponing the decision was jeopardising the interests of the farmers.

A hydrological report by Marco Cremona was eventually presented to the Appeals Tribunal. The study clearly states that there is no doubt about the direct hydraulic connection between the site of the cemetery and the farmers’ water source.

Affidavits by affected farmers show that, before the work on the cemetery, they had enough water for their fields. However, when the works got under way, they had to buy water for their fields and products decreased in quantity and quality.

On March 15, 2013 – the ides of March and six days after the last election – the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal informed the objectors that the original permit dated May 31, 2007 was superseded by another permit dated July 23, 2012, where the applicant presented an amended application to the original permit.

Since there was no appeal to the latter permit, the original one was now exhausted, having been superseded by the latter. Because of this, the tribunal abstained from taking further notice of the appeal.

Mepa’s vision “is to pass onto our children a better country than we inherited. It is for this very reason that we (Mepa) compare our environment to a treasure, something we dedicate our energies to, to protect, care for and improve. The environment encompasses all – nature, cultural and architectural heritage, towns and villages, the countryside, the seas and air. We (Mepa) believe that together we should carefully plan so that our heritage, this gem that we treasure, will not fade away.”

Who can possibly believe this when Mepa buried its vision at the Nadur cemetery?

2009.02.00 - The remains of a protected carob tree

The water catchment area of garigue which replenished the perched aquifer feeding and supplying water to the farming community and the valley ecosystem – BEFORE the approved rape of the ecosystem started.

Was this cemetery, to be run on a time­share basis, really needed in Nadur? Why was the precautionary principle not applied in such a sensitive and delicate ecological area with such a rare natural resource? Why where the above social and ecological negative impacts all cast aside, importance being given only to economic aspects? Was ‘the hand of god’ coerced to give the green light for such an injustice?

Jesus once entered the temple area and drove out all traders and shoppers. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. What would He have done had He found the selling of graves in His name? It is easier to deliver 10 sermons than to live one.

“Our lives end the day we become silent about things that really matter”…“and, in the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends” (Martin Luther King).

2009.06.01 water from the acquifer

The murky water feeding the farmers’ cisterns after the work started – definitely not the clear pure potable water they were used to use before.

The dead at Nadur cemetery will haunt and curse the living.

For God’s sake, remove environmental matters from Mepa before the social and ecological fabric of these islands is completely destroyed.

aebaldacchino@gmail.com

alfredbaldacchino.wordpress.com

The original article in The Times, with comments posted by readers, can be seen at the following link:

http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20130406/opinion/A-vision-buried-at-Nadur-cemetery.464394

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The biblical apple tree

April 4, 2012

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The biblical apple tree – Alfred E. Baldacchino

The first time man met his Creator it did not take him long to upset the applecart through his lust and greed for power. When man later met the Son of his Creator, he crucified Him, ironically in God’s name.
History books recount how crusades and holy wars were waged to wipe out the infidel. Countries were looted, civilisations raped and that which did not have any economic value burned, all in God’s name.
In the meantime, leaders consolidated their power through such atrocities executed in God’s name. These leaders, whether political or religious, swore that their power was given to them by God. They acted in God’s name and, as such, they could do no wrong.
As man became more conscious of the intelligence with which he was endowed by his Creator, his relationship with God became something of a myth, to the extent that he found it more convenient to create his own god, a gold-god, nicknamed dollars, euros, pound, yen or what have you.
Man adores his newly made gold god. He does everything for it and is ready to die for it even by gnawing at the very root his own existence. So reminiscent of another biblical passage when Moses went on the mountain to receive the Tablets and his absence his followers made and adored a golden effigy.
This phenomenon can also be seen in our country. An illegal development was issued with a permit on the pretext that the
Mother of God appeared on site!
Holy Mass is celebrated on a monthly basis, with political shrewdness lacking any spirituality – making mockery of the very concept of God – on the development site of a cemetery that has been issued with a stop notice for irregular works.
I recall another biblical passage when the Son of God cleared the temple because the house of His father was being turned into a den of thieves. Commercial activity then was the selling of doves and pigeons, not land or graves!

“The biblical apple tree has been stripped of all its apples” 

The limited resources of our planet are being exploited as if man is living just for the day. The biblical apple tree has been stripped of all its apples, denuded of its leaves, uprooted, chopped into pieces and what was not of economic value thrown on man’s intelligent-dump heap.

Ecosystems, such as rainforests, oceans, fresh water, air, climate, land and the fauna and flora they embrace are being exploited beyond the limit. Man feels he is no longer answerable or dependant on any superior being but only to his man-made god. This god never chides him but urges him on in his lust for power, without any need of ethics or of any spiritual guilt feelings.

Man wants to play god. He decides on what and who ought to continue to live on this planet. He changes ecosystems that took billion of years to evolve but which are not good enough for his own ends. He genetically modifies organisms to make them more perfect, on the pretext of feeding the hungry, the very same people whose countries he raped and looted in bygone times. It’s a convenient excuse to adore and honour his gold god, now his servant.

Barely a century ago, the world fought a regime that wanted to have a perfect race and butchered anyone who was not fit to form part of it or who stood in the way of achieving such aim. Millions died to oppose this bizarre idea. Yet, today, even in some of the very same countries that fought such a weird concept there are ideas that unfortunate and disabled people are a burden to society because they are exerting pressure on the gold god and not contributing anything to it.

The terminally ill and the old have been facilitated with legal euthanasia. Those who do not contribute to the gold god because of unnatural conditions are not worth their place on this planet. This man-made gold god has led some to prefer to have a plush palace from where to dictate and decide the people’s fate rather than to offer last comforts to those who have humbly lived a decent life working and, possibly, contributing to elect their leaders. But in gold god’s name such leaders turn against the very same people when they dare ask questions or show their dissent.

The planet is inundated with atrocities committed in the name of this god. A similar scenario can also be witnessed closer to home, albeit still more subtle.

My God is a totally different God. He forgives, loves, cares, helps and aids all life on this planet. He is not in need of any material paraphernalia and detests wars, killings, butchering, stealing and injustices. I won’t be surprised if some might laugh me off saying that I still believe in granny’s tales or in fiction. Admittedly, there is no more spirituality in man’s life today, no respect, no ethics, no compassion but just greed and lust for materialism and power achieved in gold’s name.

One can easily see the biblical camel cantering through a needle’s eye while man is suffocating in insatiable mouthfuls of biblical apples.

Well, whatever, whichever, wherever, however and whoever your god is, may your god be with you when you reach the end of your lease on this planet and depart to meet your Creator, whether you believe in Him or not. With your god by your side, you may say: Quis ut Deus?