A tree, a Minister and the EU

January 25, 2020

Alfred E Baldacchino

Sunday, 2 February, 2020

Civil society lodged an appeal in the Courts of Justice after the Planning Authority approved (with the help of Environment and Resources Authority)  the Attard Central Link project in July 2019. The development is being funded by national and EU funds.

The court decision is expected on February 14, but Infrastructure Malta, also in the portfolio of Ian Borg, defied everyone and decided to start with the works.

They are demolishing everything in their path: trees, biodiversity, cultivated fields, farmhouses… anything as long as they get things done their own way.

The excavations along the route have almost been completed, irrespective of the fact that the court’s decision has not been taken.

Would one be wrong in saying that this is putting the courts in an embarrassing position, having to decide on something which has almost been completed?

Is this the way that public and European funds are managed to get things done?

Does this ministry believe that there is no-one in government or from civil society who can object to such a dictatorial fashion of getting things done? Does this not give the impression that Infrastructure Malta believes it has more power than a prime minister?

Getting thing done by Infrastructure Malta: unprofessionally uprooting a protected tree

The environmental impact assessment regarding the works – an assessment which was challenged in court – gives an indication of the richness of the biodiversity that would be destroyed by the works.

A call was received on January 21, regarding a rare tree – an elderberry tree – which had been uprooted days previously. This tree is protected by Legal Notice 258 of 2018.

But for Ian Borg’s Infrastructure Malta this is just another piece of paper they can ignore in getting things done, like they did at Wied Qirda, with many rubble walls, and all those concreted country paths in valleys, naturally using national and EU funds.

Such barbaric ways of getting things done also reflects on the new prime minister

Considering the complete disregard the Ministry of Infrastructure has for the protection of biodiversity – and considering the impotence of ERA, especially when confronted by this ministry – accompanied by a friend of mine, we decided to save this tree: voluntarily, using our own time and expenses.

So, on January 22, we went on site equipped with two secateurs and took all the possible cuttings from the almost dead tree, thrown and tied by the side of an adjacent field not to interfere with Infrastructure works. It took us two and a half hours to take all cuttings, which once cleaned and processed, would easily contribute to approximately 2,000 cuttings ready for propagation.

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All possible cuttings taken from Infrastructure Malta’s massacre of the protected elderberry tree

Using our own personal car, we filled it with this precious propagation stock and drove to Ambjent Malta, seeking their help to preserve this rare protected species. They willingly obliged, but more help was needed.

The root ball could not be transported in our private car, so we asked for help to transport it for propagation too.

Some telephone calls had to be made to the so-called ‘higher authorities’ to save this important protected tree.

But the effort did save some red faces too, and Ambjent Malta was accompanied to the place where the half-dead tree was lying. It was transported and professionally replanted by Ambjent Malta within a couple of minutes.

Job done. Following the timely, intervention of two volunteers, the protected tree is given a good chance to survive with the help of Ambjent Malta.

Now if two individuals on their own voluntary initiative wanted to save a rare protected tree, why couldn’t Ian Borg’s Infrastructure Malta do this, considering the millions of public and EU funds they boast they have? They don’t simply because they do not care and do not want to.

Were ERA not so impotent when it comes to Infrastructure Malta, among others, it could easily have saved the tree.

The political, legal and administrative strength of ERA, one would assume, is much stronger than that of two private individuals. So why did they not take any action to save the tree in question? ERA would probably learn about all this destruction of biodiversity from the press.

Cabinet’s responsibility is collective. This means that such barbaric ways of getting things done also reflects on the new prime minister. Everybody who is not politically convinced that a circle is square is deeply concerned, because the way the Central Link Project is being managed – getting things done irrespective of everything, be it legal, be it administrative, be it the EU, or ignoring all stakeholders – makes a mockery of the new prime minister’s assurances and efforts to address the rule of law and the environment. How is this possible? Strange bedfellows, one would assume.

Good governance relies on the rule of law. There are many who really have the true, unselfish, good of the country at heart, and who are not imbibed with partisan politics. It is just political garbage that is getting things done without any professionalism and bereft of any good governance, using public and EU funds for such environmental destruction.

Getting things done because I say so can easily mean ‘I came, I saw, I destroyed’.

The European Union should make it a point that when it gives funds to any country, not least Malta, it should ensure that this is not used to destroy biodiversity in violation of its very own environment acquis.

Indeed, some do need to have wings clipped.

aebaldacchino@gmail.com

Mark Anthony Falzon is not appearing this week.

related articles:

https://timesofmalta.com/articles/view/the-architect-the-judge-the-house-and-the-illegal-driveway.686056

https://timesofmalta.com/articles/view/workers-at-wied-qirda-ignore-regulators-orders-to-stop.750328

Fake rubble walls ‘are illegal’

Environment Landscaping Conundrum

Environment hit by EU funds

“For our trees”

More biodiversity destruction with EU funds – confirmed

EU funds destroy Maltese biodiversity

‘Destroying trees to make way for cars is a big mistake’


A splitting image of Mepa

August 3, 2015

times of malta

Monday, 3rd August, 2015

A splitting image of MEPA 

Alfred E Baldacchino

mepa logo-1

MEPA’s failure in its environmental responsibility started from day one. Barely a week from the ‘merger’ with the Environment Department, in 2001, I was told in a joking vein: “forget about environment; it is development which dictates here.”

And so it was to be. And so it is today. Honouring national and international environmental obligations, which were never understood or wanted to be understood by MEPA, seemed like trying to swim up the Niagara falls. Eventually, environment became MEPA’s Cinderella, leading to its present headless mummified state in limbo.

After two years in government, it has now been thought appropriate to resuscitate such a mummy. Despite being an electoral promise, the move is accompanied by a lot of fanfare and publicity, and this raises more questions than answers. Is it to hide past failures and the procrastination in making such move? Is it to detract from the fact that environment has been kept out of the portfolio of the Minster for the Environment but is in that of the Prime Minster? Is it to make up for the environmental degradation which also saw the Environment Directorate degenerate into a mummified orphaned headless Cinderella? Is it just meant for that part of the electorate who can be convinced that a circle is square?

To consolidate MEPA complete disregard for the environment, on its death bed MEPA, forwarded a report to the Prime Minister, a couple of weeks ago, suggesting that Żonqor was the best site for the university development. The report completely ignored the Environment Directorate, it’s acting Director (no Director since change of government) and the MEPA board too.

MEPA has stooped so low, with such farcical unprofessional behaviour along the years, that it has lost all credibility. It is in need of new image to “secure better planning”!  Is the colourful publicity and change of name merely dressing the old wolf in new sheep’s clothing? Many already see the Executive Council referred to in the new Bills, as already set up and running, as evidenced by the Żonqor report. It seems that the rape will go on, till there is nothing left to rape.

As advertised, MEPA will be no more, and will only be remembered in the books of history especially for its complete environmental failures. Few would shed a tear.

 

trophy

Future generations have a right to know who was responsible for the protection of the Maltese environment, which they have lent us.

I won’t. I have gone through the new environment bill. An exercise undertaken by a parliamentary secretary in the office of the prime minister. The new bill transposes all the environmental provisions from the MEPA Act (except for some ‘overlooked touches’): a cut and paste exercise to ensure that the EU Environment Aquis obligations are all there.

If the new Environment Act is to put the environment high on the agenda, why was it not possible to achieve such aims, with the same legal provisions, when it was under the responsibility of the Prime Minister? Is all this fanfare a confirmation of failure? MEPA has been declared a monster, without any political control, when as everybody knows it functions by political nods, as one concludes from a rationalised  żonqor point.

I honestly believe that the Minster for the Environment, Leo Brincat, can administer the environment on professional lines. Perhaps this is why he has been kept away from environmental responsibility, and MEPA, environment and all, are still not in his portfolio after two years. It is nice to have someone to shield the blows though!

One now hopes the Minster for the environment won’t be given a ‘promotion’ and be replaced by someone whose main qualification will be to convince us that he is ‘balancing’ environment and planning, naturally in the ‘national’ interest. This would only result in handing over of a mummified headless Cinderella from limbo, nicely adorned as a skeleton on a string, controlled by the Executive Council.

 

 

cartoon

What trust can one have in the headless skeleton, resuscitated and dressed as an Environmental Authority? In the absence of such trust, which is not easy to re-establish, it is very difficult to believe everything that is being said.

Those who yearn for a better future, better social wellbeing, a better environmental home, have to fasten their seatbelts. We are all in for a rough ride.

I sincerely wish all the good luck to the Environment Minister who will need all the help he can from genuine individuals and social entities, especially from the political field.

Unfortunately though he will have a lot of bones to pick with.

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PS – graphics were added to the original article.

aebaldacchino@gmail.com


Unkept green pledges

January 17, 2015

times of malta

Saturday, 17th January, 2015

Unkept green pledges

 Alfred E. Baldacchino

Public awareness on environmental matters has never been so strong. Yet, the environment is still being decimated and abused with the blessing of government entities.

MEPA, the competent authority for environment, is under the responsibility of a parliamentary secretary, and falls within the Prime Minister’s portfolio. Projecting colourful fireworks’ toxic smoke, killing of species, and ODZ ‘tweeting’ are higher on the agenda than any tangible national policies for the good of society and the environment at large.

Once there was a party in government who in 1980 initiated regulations for the protection of biodiversity, and had a vision to green Malta and push afforestation. Surprisingly, that same party is in government today, albeit with different faces, different visions, and different principles. It seems that the complete exploitation of the environment, despite its social, ecological, economical, educational, scientific, psychological, and quality of life contributions, is a new principle. As are the dismantling of environmental regulations. Times change not only names, faces and logos, but also basic principles it would appear.

photo - unkept green promise

It seems that the complete exploitation of the environment is a new policy. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

An authority that is funded by the public turns a blind eye on social and ecological negative impacts. No finger is turned to stop the decimation and butchering of biodiversity. Spraying of chemicals to kill every living species growing for free goes uncontrolled. Millions of euros are spent to dump free natural sources in the sea. A directorate which once was responsible to see that these do not happen is in deep freeze. The mentality of pecuniary and materialistic greed at the expense of society and the environment rules the day.

EU funds are still used and spent without any ecological consideration. Commercial banks still sponsor without ensuring that some of the funds do not go toward the loss or destruction of biodiversity. Politicians are not concerned about loss of biodiversity with the funds provided.

The Environment Directorate is abused, gagged, and hijacked till hopefully it gives up its ghost. Mepa has become more of an environmental hazard than environmental protector. Can anyone be blamed for believing that government does not have any vision or interest in collective social and environmental gain?

The government’s manifesto, if electoral manifestos are anything to go by, clearly explains that a well-protected environment leads to a better quality of life. The new government had to seriously administer and be greatly committed to the environmental sector. It had to work with determination to make up for lost time, aware that there are a number of difficult decisions to be made, amongst them the upheaval of MEPA. It had to take this measure in the interest of our national environment so that it will be in a better position to address the challenge (electoral manifesto p. 93).

“Times change not only names, faces and logos

but also basic principles, it seems”

The separation of the environment and planning directorates within Mepa, was intended “to strengthen the environment’s autonomy” and “to give more importance to the strategic aspect and long term vision”, “to reach a better balance between conservation and the protection of the environment and responsible development.” (electoral manifesto p. 94).

Yet after 21 months in government, Mepa remains responsible for environment protection, playing havoc in this sector, not wanting to have anything to do with environmental protection. Mepa’s environmental management is far from the elected commitments made by the party in government. The procrastination in bringing about the promised demerger does not help to convince anyone that government is keen on immediately honouring its electoral manifesto even on such a delicate matter which will affect the future of the islands. Such a vacuum and delay is undoubtedly being capitalised, to the detriment of society and the environment. It is very clear that the official pro-business vision is sucking Malta’s resources dry. The Minister, who on paper is responsible for the environment, will eventually be handed a dead skeleton of environmental structures, impossible to resuscitate, if at all.

The ‘not-my-fault’ syndrome has unfortunately undermined any sense of good governance. Sometimes I ask myself whether the environmental remit has been politically omitted from the Environment’s Minister portfolio and divided and fragmented among other Cabinet ministries so that it would be easy to say that no one is responsible when environmental protection is everyone’s responsibility?

In the run up to the election, the Prime Minister said that if any voters were not happy with the way ministers were handling their responsibilities according to the manifesto, they should refer the matter to him directly. The letter signed by present and former presidents of Din l-Art Ħelwa regarding the pitiful state the environment was a first step. It was followed by a group of other environmental NGOs.

I would also like to bring to the Prime Minister’s attention, the manner the environment is being mismanaged and exploited. There is no doubt that the legacy this government will be leaving to future generations is indeed shameful and does not do any honour to any politician, if honour is valued any more these days. Ironically, the environment falls within the portfolio of the author of the electoral manifesto. He is definitely being advised by the wrong people, some say conveniently, though I do not agree with this.

The latest comments by the Prime Minister can possibly shows that he is not happy with this sad state of affairs. And rightly so, because there will definitely not be much hope for the environment in the future with the big irreparable negative impacts this will have on society, which will eventually have to pay the price for such political mismanagement.

Mepa playing havoc with environmental matters is definitely not in line with the electoral manifesto’s commitments. Not only will lost time not be recovered (electoral manifesto p 93) but such lost time is being extended and extended until there will be nothing left to recover.

Having hijacked the planning authority, the pro-business mentality driving force is holding society and the environment to ransom.

Environmentalists who have the real national interest at heart, consider 2014 as a very bad omen for the future of Maltese environment. Will this new year offer new hopes, new visions, new sustainable life for the benefit of society and the environment? The momentum of environmental degradation through the vision of exploitation at all costs raises serious doubts amongst those having the well-being of the country at heart.

I only hope 2015 will prove me wrong, not through political blah-blah but by genuine social and environmental tangible measures.

aebaldacchino@gmail.com


MEPA leaves no stone unturned

August 19, 2014

times

Mepa leaves no stone unturned

Alfred E. Baldacchino

 The illegally extended road on Comino. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

The illegally extended road on Comino. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Times of Malta lately reported the construction of a dirt and concrete road on Comino, an island with barely half a dozen residents and an EU Natura 2000 site.

The Malta Environment and Planning Authority, which is the Competent Authority for the EU environment acquis, thus also for Natura 2000 sites, was quick to show its surprise and lack of awareness of the matter.

It immediately issued an enforcement notice on the Commissioner of Land, on the grounds that Comino is government land. Pontius Pilate would have envied this. Incidentally, the Commissioner of Land falls within the portfolio of the Prime Minster.

Natura 2000 sites are sites listed according to important habitat types in the EU Habitats Directive. On accession, each member state has to declare such sites, and once approved by the EU Commission as Special Areas of Conservation, these form part of the EU Natura 2000 Network, all of European ecological importance.

Member states are obliged to draw up a management plan for each Natura 2000 site. Following agreement with the EU, Malta’s management plans were finalised by December 2013. What happened to these management plans: have these been shelved sine die?

According to the government’s electoral manifesto, the Environment Directorate had to be separated from the Planning Directorate. “The main aim of the separation will be to strengthen the respective autonomy of the two important parts”, “the environment will be given the priority it deserves” and “the environment and resources will be conserved, protected…” the new authority established “will assume the important role of a regulator which to date our country does not have”.

Furthermore, “a new government will be more seriously committed in the environmental field. We will work with determination so that we will recover the lost time, conscious that there are a number of difficult decisions to be taken, amongst them the Mepa reform. We will take these measures in the interest of the environment of our country so that we will be in a positon to address the challenge”. (Malta Tagħna Lkoll – Manifest Elettorali 2013 – section 9, pages 92 – 96)

Not only has the pitiful state of the environment under the previous administration not been addressed but today, I regret to say, it is worse than it was before. After 18 months, the environment is still in limbo, still hijacked by Mepa.

2014.08.17 - mepa reform

A cartoon which appeared in the Sunday Times of Malta – 17 August, 2014

The political responsiblility today rests with a Parliamentary Secretary within the Office of the Prime Minister. This can lead one to rightly conclude that the aim behind the separation of the directorates is more a measure of convenience than of conviction. The status quo has definitely not strengthened the environment. It is contributing to its destruction.

The fact that the environment does not fall within the portfolio of the Minister for the Environment, but is still in Mepa’s grip, also shows the lack of good governance of this social, national and international responsibility. The damage and rampage going on in the environment, endorsed by the Competent Authority paid to ensure that this does not happen, is unbelievable.

The feeling of those who honestly have the national interest of society and the environment at heart is that the environment is not a priority on the govenment’s agenda, despite the fine words in the electoral manifesto. In fact,the environment is not on the agenda at all.

Mepa is on the front line, as a Competent Authority, leaving no stone unturned to accomodate widespread and massive development and to sanction illegalities, with a hugely negative impact on society and the environment.

I fear there is much more to come. Such laissez-faire in environmetal protection leads one to ask if Mepa is finding it difficult to honour its obligations. It seems as if it wants to imply that one should ask any related questions and forward any complaints on the environment to the European Commission, because Mepa is not interested, not willing and perhaps not competent to deliver.

 The Parliamentary Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, responsible for this Competent Authority, is miles away from a basic awareness of professional environmental management and planning, judging by his comments and stands taken.

And with such an official political lack of vision of environmental matters, despite the electoral manifesto, one can understand the sorry state to which the environment is degenerating.

 

“Not only has the pitiful state of the environment under the previous administration not been addressed, but today, I regret to say, it is worse than it was before”

Aware of Mepa’s workings, I can almost see another Montekristo on Comino, with Mepa eventually boasting that it has issued scores of enforcement notices to stop the rape – and doing nothing about it.

One such note has already been issued. Mepa is morally bound (if this means anything to Mepa) to explain and advise politicians about the negative consequences that the generations of today and the future will be facing by the decisions being taken. And if the electoral manifesto is anything to go by, Mepa has ample directions, unless it has succumbed to a rubber stamp role.

“We believe that Malta should be in the forefront on environmental standards. Not because there is the obligation of European directions, but because our children deserves this.” Eloquent words in the manifesto, which every citizen of this country should applaud and look forward to achieve.

But with the Competent Authority finding it difficult to address a mere illegal dirt road in a Natura 2000 site, I very much doubt whether such an electoral promise can ever be achieved.

Mepa is morally bound (if this means anything to Mepa) to explain and advise politicians about the negative consequences that the generations of today and the future will be facing by the decisions being taken.

Mepa is morally bound (if this means anything to Mepa) to explain and advise politicians about the negative consequences that the generations of today and the future will be facing by the decisions being taken.

Imagine the stand Mepa will take with regard to the White Rocks development, extending into a Natura 2000 site, which will definitely be negatively impacted. The more so since the project cannot be regarded as a development related to the management of the site.

I believe that if the Prime Minister – who is responsible for Mepa, the Competent Authority for environmental matters – really wants to achieve the electoral promises made in the Labour Party’s manifesto, he has to seriously commit himself before it becomes almost impossible to achieve them.

“Our aim is clear: we want to be the best because this is what we deserve. We want to leave behind us a heritage to future generations so that these will be better than we are today.”

Too much time has already been wasted and much damage has been done.

With Mepa at the helm of environmental protection and management, there is no possibility at all for the government to achieve and honour its electoral promises.

aebaldacchino@gmail.com


Il­-Qala, Għawdex… u s-­siġar

March 24, 2014

NewsBook

It-Tnejn, 24 ta’ Marzu, 2014

Il­-Qala, Għawdex… u s­-siġar

 Alfred E. Baldacchino

Ir-­Rabat, Ħaż-­Żebbuġ, il-­Mellieħa, Bormla, l-­Isla, Ħal ­Luqa, Santa Luċija, Ħaż-­Żabbar, il­-Foss tal-­Imdina, il­-Fgura, Ħ’Attard, Blata l-Bajda, tas-Sliema, il-­Mellieħa, il-­Ħamrun, il­-Belt, it-­Tokk  u n-­Nadur Għawdex, insomma jekk nibqa’ sejjer, insemmi l-­irħula u l­-ibliet ta’ Malta u ta’ Għawdex kollha. Imma forsi xi ħadd jistaqsi x’hemm komuni jew speċjali f’dawn il-­postijiet. Matul is­-snin li għaddew, numru ta’ siġar ġew maqlugħa jew imbiċċra f’dawn il­-postijiet. Saħansitra f’xi wħud minnhom inqalgħu toroq sħaħ ta’ siġar, bħal ngħidu aħna Ħaż-Żebbuġ, il­-Mellieħa, u anki l­-Fgura. F’inħawi oħra is­-siġar inżabru, kif jingħad, b’mod li aktar jixbħu arbli tad­-dawl jew sinjali tat-traffiku, milli siġra ħajja fil­-kobor, fis­-sbuħija, u fil-­hena kollha li din toffri.

U għal liema raġuni dawn is-­siġar sfaw hekk imżebilħa? Ir­-raġunijiet li jissemmew, xi kultant huma anki milqugħa minn mexxejja soċjali, anki poliltiċi u dawk ta’ Awtoritajiet pubbliċi, bħal ngħidu aħna l­-MEPA l-Awtorità li hija responsabbli għall-­ħarsien tagħhom. U wieħed hawn irid jirringrazzja lill-­MEPA tal­-permessi li tat biex dan seta’ jsir.

Fost dawn ir-­raġunijiet, nisimgħu li dawn jgħattu l­-veduta ta’ uħud, jew jiġbdu lejhom għasafar li mbagħad iħammġu taħthom, jew li jwaqqgħu l­-weraq u jħammġu t­-triq, jew li jagħmlu l­-ħsara lill-bankina, jew li jġibu n­-nemus, anki intqal li dawn jgħattu l-­veduta ta’ xi ħadd u dan ma jkunx jista’ jara l­-murtali tal-­kulur tal­-festa, jew xi preżentazzjoni bid-­dawl fuq is-­swar ta’ Sant’ Anġlu. Insomma, raġunijiet li juri n-­nuqqas ta’ apprezzament, nuqqas ta’ edukazzjoni, u egoiżmu bla qiegħ.

Kull waħda minn dawn is­-siġar darba kienet imħarsa mir­-regolamenti tal­-2001 sakemm il­-Mepa, li hija responsabbli mill-­ħarsein tal-­ambjent, dehrilha li dawn kellhom ħarsien żejjed u biddlet il­-liġijiet fl-­2011. Tgħid riedet togħġob lil xi ħadd, jew kienet imġiegħla minn xi ħadd biex jogħġob lil xi wħud?  Min jaf għaliex l-­Awtorità li qegħda hemm biex tħares l­-ambejnt f’isem il­-poplu li jħallasha, dgħajfet ir-­regolamenti għall­-ħarsien tas­-siġar biex dawn ikunu jistgħu jinqalgħu b’anqas inkwiet. U qed naraw ir­-riżultat ta’ din id­-deċiżjoni bil-­kbir.

Minkejja d-­diskors sabiħ li għandha l­-Mepa fil­-viżjoni tagħha dwar l-ambjent, il­-qerda tas­-siġar f’pajjizna għadha għaddejja b’ritmu mgħaġġel, kemm direttament kif ukoll indiretament, sa minn meta biddlet ir-regolamenti għall­-ħarsien tagħhom. Anki bl-­importazzjoni ta’ speċi barranin, bla kontrol ta’ xejn, uħud minnhom anki invażivi. U bejnietna (ma jmurx jismagħna l­-Ministru tal-­Finanzi) dan kollu qed isir u mħallas bi flus pubbliċi: jew mill­-Gvern ċentrali, jew mill­-Gvern lokali, kif kien isir qabel. U dan minkejja li l-­MEPA llum qiegħda taħt ir-­responsabbiltà tal-Prim Ministru.

Ftit huma dawk, u dawn minn fost il-­pubbliku, li jsemmu l­-għajnuna li jgħatu s­-siġar. L-­akbar għajnuna hija li dawn jgħatu l-­ossiġenu u jneħħu d-diossidu tal-­karbonju mill-­arja. U nafu kemm l­-arja hija mniġġsa l­-aktar bit-­tfigħ tad-­diossidu tal­-karbonju fl-­arja minn kull tip ta’ karozza u magna oħra li taħdem billi taħraq iż-­żejt. Dan ħafna ma japprezzawhx. Lanqas ma japprezzaw li dawn jilqgħu s-­sħana, jgħatu d-­dell, kemm lil min joqgħod taħthom, kif ukoll lil dawk id-­djar fil-­qrib tagħhom. U barra minhekk, jilqgħu l­-irjiħat u ­xita għad-djar ta’ warajhom u b’hekk tintuża anqas enerġija biex tkessah jew issaħħan id­-dar skont l-­istaġun.  Lanqas napprezzaw li dawn iżommu l-ħamrija f’postha u ma jħalluhiex titkaxkar max­-xita u tittajjar mir-­riħ. U anki jgħinu biex jinħażen l­-ilma tax-­xita u ma jħalluhx iżid fis-saħħa u jagħmel il­-ħsara fi triqtu għall­-baħar. U xi ngħidu għall­-fatt li l­-kulur ħadrani tagħhom, iż­-żifna tal-­weraq u l-­effett estetiku li jagħtu huma ta’ għajnuna wkoll biex iserraħ l­-imħuħ ta’ minn jarahom u japprezzahom. Sfortunatament issib li bil-barka ta’ minn suppost iħarishom, dawn is­-siġar mill-­urban, sena wara sena, jitbiċċru u jinqalgħu biex jissodisfaw il­-mentlità miskina ta’ xi wħud. Il­-prezz tal-­għibien tagħhom jħallsuh is-­soċjetà u l­-ambjent. U l­-awtoritajiet, x’jimportahom.

U mal-­lista’ ta’ postijiet ta’ bliet u rħula Maltin u Għawdxin fuq imsemmija, issa milli jidher sejjer jiżdied il­-Qala, f’Għawdex. Rajt il-­kummenti li hemm għaddejjin bħalissa fuq il-­Facebook dwar is­-siġar fil-pjazza tal-Qala, għall-raġunijiet bħal dawk imsemmija aktar ’l fuq biex dawn jinqalgħu, għalkemm kien hemm uħud li ma jaqblux ma’ dan. Skont is-Sindku tal-Qala, il-M­epa diġà ħarġet il-permess biex jinqalgħu s-siġar tal-palm.  Mingħand il­-Mepa ma nistenniex aħjar u llum wieħed isibha fuq quddiem nett biex tapprova jew tirregola xi attività li twassal għall-qerda tal-ambjent, kif wieħed jista’ jara u jisma’ kważi kuljum. Imma sa issa ma hemmx permess biex is­-siġar l-oħra tal-pjazza fil-Qala, jinqalgħu. Qed jintqal li xi ħadd, naħseb li dan ma jkunx interessat li juri ismu, beda jiġbor il-firem tal-Qalin biex dawn is­-siġar ikunu jistgħu jinqalgħu. U hekk il-Mepa tkun tista’ taħsel idejha u tgħid li la l­-gvern lokali u r-­residenti jridu hekk, allura hija ma tistax tagħmel mod ieħor! X’pajjiż miskin hux.

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Is-siġar li jgħatu l-ħajja lill-pjazza tal-knisja fil-Qala Għawdex. Dawn hemm minn irid jeqridhom.

Wara dan il-manuvrar kollu biex is-siġar tal­-pjazza tal-Qala jinqalgħu, fuq sit ġdid Save Qala Trees fuq il­-Facebook intqal li Dun Sultana mill­-parroċċa tal-­Qala, qal li s-siġar huma propjetà tal-Knisja u din mhux sejra tgħati permess biex is­-siġar jinqalgħu.

Minn sena ’l hawn deherli li lmaħt xi dawl innemnem fit­-tarf ta’ mina twila mudlama li llum twassal għall-qerda tas-siġar minn pajjiżna. Il-fomm ta’ dan id­-dawl huwa l­-programm elettorali tal-partit fil-gvern illum. F’paġna 101, taqsima 56, jgħid hekk: Inħarsu kontinwament is­-siġar eżistenti fl-ibliet u l-irħula Maltin u ninċentivaw it-tħawwil ta’ aktar siġar, partikolarment dawk indiġeni.  Veru li kif jgħidu, bejn il-kliem u l-fatti hemm baħar jikkumbatti. Imma naħseb li l-Kunsill Lokali tal-Qala Għawdex jaf b’din il-wegħda aktar u aktar meta, kif nista’ nifhem jien, fil­-biċċa ’l kbira tiegħu huma jirrapreżentaw il­-partit fil-gvern.

Ikun interessanti wieħed jara kif is­-siġar tal-pjazza tal-Qala Għawdex sejrin jispiċċaw. Wieħed ikun jista’ jara jekk il­-kelb tal-għassa tal­-ambjent tiegħek u tiegħi, fadallux aktar snin; fejn sejjer ixaqleb il­-miżien tal-Kunsill Lokali tal-Qala, jekk il­-keffa tal-voti personali tkunx itqal minn dik tal-ħarsien tas­-siġar tagħna lkoll; u kemm hija b’saħħitha l-wegħda miktuba tal­-partit fil-gvern. Nistennew u naraw il­-viżjoni soċjali sa fejn twassal f’dan il-pajjiż miskin.

 aebaldacchino@gmail.com


Massakru minn siġar fis-Saqqajja

November 18, 2013

L-Orizzont fit-22 ta’  Ottubru, 2013 ippublika aħbar dwar il-massakru tas-siġar fis-Saqqajja r-Rabat.

Jien  ikkumentajt fuq din l-aħbar fit-29 ta’ Ottubru, 2013 , kif ukoll korrispondent ieħor minn Toronto l-Kanada.

Il-MEPA, l-Awtorità Kompetenti għall-ħarsien tas-siġar fil-gżejjer Maltin (għalmenu fuq il-karta biss) fid-9 ta’ Novembru, 2013, ħasset li kellha tikkoreġi xi kummenti li għamilt jien.

Illum 18 ta’ Novembru, 2013, l-Orizzont ippubblika l-ittra tiegħi bi tweġiba għall-kummenti tal-MEPA. Qiegħed nehemż dawn il-kummenti kollha fuq dan il-post.

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It-Tnejn, 18 ta’  Novembru 2013

Massakru minn siġar fis-Saqqajja

Alfred E. Baldacchino

Sur Editur,

Nixtieq nirreferi għall-ittra tal-MEPA bi tweġiba għal ittra oħra, intitolata “Massakru minn siġar fis-Saqqajja”, ir-Rabat, li dehret fil-ħarġa tal-ġurnal l-orizzont tas-Sibt, 9 ta’ Novembru, 2013. F’din l-ittra l-MEPA tgħid li:

1.  Fil-programm, is-CEO tal-MEPA qal li jekk siġra hija protetta hemm bżonn il-permess tal-MEPA biex din tinżabar jew tinqala’ minn postha, iżda jekk is-siġra mhijiex protetta, hemm bżonn biss il-permess tad-Dipartiment tal-Agrikultura.

Ir-regolamenti għall-ħarsien tas-siġar – Avviż Legali 200 tal-2011 – jgħid li l-awtorità kompetenti (jiġifieri l-MEPA) għandha tkun responsabbli għall­-amministrazzjoni, implimentazzjoni u inforzar ta’ dawn ir-regolamenti. Imkien f’dawn ir-regolamenti, jew f’xi oħrajn, ma hemm referenza għad-Dipartiment tal-Agrikultura.

Tista’ l-MEPA tagħmel referenza għal-liġi li turi li d-Departiment tal-Agrikultura huwa b’xi mod responsabbli legalment kif qiegħda tgħid hi? Jiddispjaċini ngħid li l-MEPA qiegħda tipprova titfa’ r-responsabbiltà tagħha fuq Ministeru ieħor li ma għandu l-ebda obbligu legali, biex tgħatti xturha.

2.  Il-MEPA qalet ukoll li mill-investigazzjoni tagħha sabet li ma kien hemm l-ebda ksur ta’ regolamenti. Dan, għax kif qalet, mir-ritratti tal-ajru, dawn is-siġar miżbura għandhom inqas minn 50 sena. Ma nafx x’ritratti għandha l-MEPA u minn fejn ġabet dawn ir-ritratt u d-dati. Kull min hu tal-età tiegħi u hu mir-Rabat bħali, jaf li dawn is-siġar għandhom sewwa viċin it-80 sena. Jekk it-tagħrif li għandha l-MEPA biex toħroġ permessi tal-bini huwa ta’ dan it-tip, mhux ta’ b’xejn fil-pajjiż hawn din il-qerda kollha tal-ambjent naturali.

saqqajja trees5

Ritratt mehud fl-1961 li juri s-siġar tas-Saqqajja fejn diġà jidhru li kellhom madwar il-15-il sena. Imma mir-ritratti li għandha l-MEPA dawn is-siġar għad ma għadnhomx 50 sena.

3.  Il-MEPA qalet ukoll li skont l-Avviż Legali 200 tal-2011, siġar tal-Fikus jeħtieġu permess tal-MEPA biex jinżabru jekk huma ixjaħ minn 50 sena u jinsabu fl-ODZ, Żoni Protetti jew UCA. Dan juri l-istat miskin ta’ kif il-MEPA ħarbtet ir-regolamenti fl-2011 (għax xi ħadd hekk ried) biex il-qerda tas-siġar li qiegħda sseħħ, kemm mill-kuntrattur tal-Gvern, kemm minn xi kunsilli lokali, insomma minn min irid jeqred jew ibiċċer, ikun jista’ jagħmel fl-urban mingħajr ebda permess mingħand ħadd.

Dan kollu minkejja li, skont l-ewwel sentenza fil-viżjoni tal-MEPA ippubblikata fuq il-websajt tagħha stess, u se nikkwota:

L-għan tagħna huwa li ngħaddu lit-tfal tagħna pajjiż aħjar minn dak li writna. Huwa minħabba f’hekk li aħna nqabblu l-ambjent ma’ teżor, xi ħaġa li nużaw l-enerġija tagħna biex inħarsu, biex nieħdu ħsieb u biex intejjbu. L-ambjent jiġbor kollox: in-natura, il-kultura u anki l-wirt arkitettoniku, bliet u rħula, il-kampanja, l-ibħra u l-arja. Aħna nemmnu li flimkien għandna bil-għaqal nippjanaw biex il-wirt tagħna, din il-ġawhra li aħna ngħożżu, ma tgħibx għal dejjem.

saqqajja trees3

Kif kienu jinżabru s-siġar minn missiriejiitna. Dawn ma kellhom l-ebda viżjoni miktuba imma din kienet tidher fix-xogħol tagħhom fuq l-art.

U tagħlaq billi, fost oħrajn, tgħid: “Il-valuri li jispirawna biex nilħqu l-obbligi tagħna huma dawk li jħallu effett pożittiv fuq is-soċjetà. Il-valuri huma marbutin ma’ ġustizzja murija f’deċiżjonijiet għaqlin u f’waqthom u infurzati b’mod ġust. Jekk aħna napplikaw dawn il-valuri b’determinazzjoni, inkunu qed ngħinu biex infasslu il-ġid komuni, kunċett li huwa riżultat tal-għeruq Kristjani ta’ dan il-pajjiż. Dawn il-valuri, applikati b’mod professjonali, jagħtu evidenza tal-integrità tal-Awtorità f’dak kollu li tagħmel u li tgħid.

Kif ġabuhom is-siġar illum.  Imma kif dan il-pajjiż tilef kull sengħa, kull pġrofessjonalità, kull rispett, u tilef ruħhu għall-flus.

Kif inżabru l-istess sigar meta għandna l-MEPA li għandha vijżoni  miktuba, imma ma tidher imkien fix-xogħol tagħha fuq l-art.

Filwaqt li din il-viżjoni ma hemm xejn x’wieħed jgħid fiha, il-mod kif il-MEPA qiegħda timxi magħha jew iġġiegħlek tidħak jew tibki, speċjalment meta din l-awtorità hi mħallsa minn flus il-poplu biex tħares dak li hu tal-poplu. Jekk hix il-MEPA li qed tidħak bil-poplu jew hux il-poplu li qed jidħak bil-MEPA inħalli f’idejkom.

Illum il-poplu huwa aktar intelliġenti u għandu kuxjenza b’saħħitha favur l-ambjent. Il-MEPA tista’ taħseb li b’xi mod tista’ tgħaddi l-poplu minn għajn il-labra. Lili mhux biss ma tikkonvinċinix imma ma niddejjaq xejn ngħid li l-MEPA, wara li l-ewwel ħatfet id-Dipartiment tal-Ambjent, illum ġabitu fix-xejn, u nqisha li hija l-akbar għadu tal-ambjent naturali fil-gżejjer Maltin.

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is-Sibt, 9 ta’ Novembru 2013.

 PETER GINGELL, Maniġer tal-Komunikazzjoni, MEPA

“Massakru minn siġar fis-Saqqajja”

Sur Editur,
Nirreferi għall-ittra lill-Editur li dehret fil-ġurnal l-orizzont nhar it-Tlieta, 29 ta’ Ottubru 2013, mibgħuta mis-Sur Alfred Baldacchino taħt it-titlu “Massakru minn siġar fis-Saqqajja”.
Fl-ittra tiegħu is-Sur Baldacchino qal li s-CEO tal-MEPA, waqt programm ta’ diskussjoni fuq One TV, kien skorrett meta qal li l-qlugħ u ż-żbir tas-siġar huma r-responsabbiltà tad-Dipartiment tal-Agrikultura.
Il-MEPA trid tiċċara li s-Sur Baldacchino għażel li jikkwota parti minn dak li qal iċ-CEO tal-MEPA, is-Sur Johann Buttigieg.
Fil-programm, is-CEO tal-MEPA qal li jekk siġra hija protetta hemm bżonn il-permess tal-MEPA biex din tinżabar jew tinqala’ minn postha, iżda jekk
is-siġra mhijiex protetta hemm, bżonn biss il-permess tad-Dipartiment tal-Agrikultura.
Fil-każ fejn numru ta’ siġar tal-Fikus ġew miżbura fis-Saqqajja, ir-Rabat, il-MEPA wara li għamlet l-investigazzjoni tagħha sabet li ma kien hemm l-ebda ksur ta’ regolament. Dan għax mir-ritratti tal-ajru, dawn s-siġar miżbura għandhom inqas minn 50 sena.
Skont l-Avviż Legali 200 tal-2011, siġar tal-Fikus jeħtieġu permess tal-MEPA biex jinżabru jekk huma ixjaħ minn 50 sena u jinsabu fl-ODZ, Żoni Protetti jew UCA.

orizzont small

 

It-Tlileta 29 ta’ Ottubru, 2013.

ALFRED E. BALDACCHINO,
“Massakru minn siġar fis-Saqqajja”

Sur Editur,
Qrajt b’interess ir-rapport intitolat “Massakru minn siġar fis-Saqqajja, ir-Rabat” ippubblikat fil-ħarġa ta’ l-orizzont ta’ nhar it-Tlieta, 22 ta’ Ottubru.
Din il‑qerda ta’ siġar f’pajjiżna issa ilha għaddejja s-snin. Hija qerda bla rażan, bla raġuni, u milli jidher bla ħadd mhu lest li jerfa’ reponsabbiltà għaliha.
Il-fragmentazzjoni li teżisti fil-ħarsien tas‑sigar mhi qiegħda tgħin xejn biex is-siġar li qegħdin jikbru f’pajjiżna jkunu mħarsin kif suppost.
Ftit tal-ħin ilu kont qiegħed nara programm ta’ diskussjoni fuq ONE TV fejn is-CEO tal-MEPA qal li l-ilqugħ u ż-żbir tas-siġar huma responsabbiltà tal-
Agrikultura. Dan mhux korrett. Din ir-responsabbiltà kienet hemm taħt ir-regolamenti l-qodma tal-2001. Imma dawn ġew revokati u mibdula mill-MEPA stess fil-2011.
Illum il-MEPA hija l-awtorità kompetenti għall-ħarsien tas-siġar skont ir-regolamenti tal-ħarsien tagħhom li għamlet hi stess.
Naħseb li hemm bżonn immedjat li l-Prim Ministru jindirizza din il-fragmentazzjoni llum qabel għada biex ma tkompliex issir aktar qerda.
ALFRED E. BALDACCHINO,
Ħ’Attard
Sur Editur,
Wara li fil-ħarġa ta’ l-orizzont ta’ nhar it-Tlieta, 22 ta’ Ottubru, qrajt l-artiklu taħt ir-ras “Massakru minn siġar fis-Saqqajja, ir-Rabat”, inkompli nistaqsi lili
nnifsi, għax milli jidher dawk responsabbli qatt ma ħassew l-obbligu li jagħtu kont ta’ għemilhom, x’inhi r-raġuni ta’ dan iż-żbir tas-siġar, speċjalment
b’dan il-mod selvaġġ.
Jien, fl-opinjoni tiegħi, naħseb li kull ma qiegħed isir hu li s-siġar qegħdin jaqtgħu nifishom għax dawn mill-weraq jieħdu n-nifs.
Jien ngħix f’Toronto, belt mimlija siġar. Tant hawn siġar illi jekk jibdew jiżbruhom, kieku ma jispiċċaw qatt.
ĠORĠ IL-QORMI,
Toronto – il-Kanada

 

orizzont small

Aħarijiet

22 ta’ Ottubru, 2013

Massakru minn siġar fis-Saqqajja, ir-Rabat

saqqajja trees
Għal darb’oħra f’pajjiżna qegħdin naraw massakru minn għadd ta’ siġar meta dawn jinżabru. Laħħar każ seħħ fis-Saqqajja r-Rabat. Dawn is-siġar ma ġralhomx bħas-siġar tal-Ħamrun li ż-żbir tagħhom twaqqaf meta saru għadd ta’ rapporti. Sfortunatament dawn is-siġar kollha nżabru b’mod mill-aktar selvaġġ.
Għalkemm jidher li saru xi rapporti qiegħed jingħad li dawn is-siġar m’għandhomx 50 sena. Minkejja dan huma diversi dawk ir-Rabtin li llum għandhom minn 75 sena ’l fuq, li qegħdin isostnu li dawn is-siġar tat-tip Fikus Nitida ilhom fil-Pjazza tas-Saqqajja aktar minn 50 sena.
Rabti li tkellem magħna qalilna li “ma nistax nifhem kif dawn is-siġar jinżabru b’dan il-mod. Li jinżabru hu tajjeb, imma mhux jitħallew kważi għerja għal kollox mill-weraq”. L-istess resident qalilna li “fir-Rabat għandna kwistjoni oħra fuq siġar li jinsabu fi Triq Santa Rita u li s’issa qed jiġu indikati li se jinqalgħu bħala parti minn proġett. Nisperaw li dan ma jsirx. Illum dawn joffru ftit dell għal min ipoġġi taħthom, jekk jinqalgħu xemx biss se jkun hemm,” sostna l-istess resident.


Ir-Rabat, is-Saqqajja u s-Siġar

October 29, 2013
orizzont
It­-Tieta, 29 ta’ Ottubru, 2013

Massakru minn siġar fis-Saqqajja

Alfred E. Baldacchino

saqqajja trees1

Sur Editur,
Qrajt b’interess ir-rapport intitolat “Massakru minn si­ġar fis-Saqqajja, ir-Rabat” ippubblikat fil-ħarġa ta’ l-orizzont ta’ nhar it-Tlieta, 22 ta’ Ottubru.
Din il‑qerda ta’ siġar f’pajjiżna issa ilha għaddejja s-snin. Hija qerda bla rażan, bla raġuni, u milli jidher bla ħadd mhu lest li jerfa’ reponsabbiltà għaliha.
Il-fragmentazzjoni li teżisti fil-ħarsien tas‑sigar m’hi qiegħda tgħin xejn biex is-siġar li qegħdin jikbru f’pajjiżna jkunu mħarsin kif suppost.
Ftit tal-ħin ilu kont qiegħed nara programm ta’ diskussjoni fuq ONE TV fejn is-CEO tal-MEPA qal li l-ilqugħ u ż-żbir tas-siġar huma responsabbiltà tal-Agrikultura. Dan mhux korrett. Din ir-responsabbiltà kienet hemm taħt ir-regolamenti l-qodma tal-2001. Imma dawn ġew revokati u mibdula mill-MEPA stess fil-2012.
Illum il-MEPA hija l-awtorità kompetenti għall-ħarsien tas-siġar skont ir-regolamenti tal-ħarsien tagħhom li għamlet hi stess.
Naħseb li hemm bżonn immedjat li l-Prim Ministru jindirizza din il-fragmentazzjoni llum qabel għada biex ma tkompliex issir aktar qerda.

ALFRED E. BALDACCHINO,
Ħ’Attard

ITTRA OĦRA LIL DEHRET MAL-­ITTRA TIEGĦI

Sur Editur,
Wara li fil-ħarġa ta’ l-orizzont ta’ nhar it-Tlieta, 22 ta’ Ottubru, qrajt l-artiklu taħt ir-ras “Massakru minn siġar fis-Saqqajja, ir-Rabat”, inkompli nistaqsi lili nnifsi, għax milli jidher dawk responsabbli qatt ma ħassew l-obbligu li jagħtu kont ta’ għemilhom, x’inhi r-raġuni ta’ dan iż-żbir tas-siġar, speċjalment b’dan il-mod selvaġġ.
Jien, fl-opinjoni tiegħi, naħ­seb li kull ma qiegħed isir hu li s-siġar qegħdin jaqtgħu nifishom għax dawn mill-weraq jieħdu n-nifs.
Jien ngħix f’Toronto, belt mimlija siġar. Tant hawn siġar illi jekk jibdew jiżbruhom, kieku ma jispiċċaw qatt.

ĠORĠ IL-QORMI,
Toronto – il-Kanada

 

ARA WKOLL

https://alfredbaldacchino.wordpress.com/2013/10/23/u-l-qerda-tas-sigar-tkompli-bl-istess-ritmu/