The environmental destruction of Malta

November 19, 2019

Tuesday, 19th November 2019

The environmental destruction of Malta

Alfred E. Baldacchino

How to destroy a valley with EU funds.

The recent destruction at Wied Qirda by Infrastructure Malta is no surprise at all. Environment destruction has become synonymous with the agency in the ministry of Ian Borg.

This long wave of destruction is endless. Thousands of public trees (even the ministry has lost count of numbers) and the destruction of national biodiversity seem to be part of their interpretation of their mission statement, “to ensure [public   infrastructure] can sustainably and dynamically support the country’s current and future economic, environmental and social development”.

Concreting a valley bottom at Wied l-Isqof by Infrastructure Malta

Destruction of trees by Infrastructure Malta at Wied l-Isqof.

The covering with concrete/tarmac of valley paths at Wied l-Isqof, Rabat, Wied Ħesri, il-Lunzjata limits of Rabat, Imselliet, Wied is-Sewda, Wied Qirda and a number of valleys in Gozo, among others, means all have suffered extensive environmental damage.

Destroying old traditional rubble walls, replacing them with large franka stone blocks cladded with used building stones to give the impression that they are ħitan tax-xulliel is another contribution, while covering such new walls with concrete further renders them useless as an ecological habitat.

These can be seen at Buqana l/o Rabat, San Ġwann, Bir id-Deheb, Żejtun, everywhere where one can see a bulldozer paid for by the ministry with EU funds.

Such environmental destruction does not help any minister, especially one who is aspiring to climb the hierarchy in his political party.

Destruction of biodiversity at il-Lunzjata by Infrastructure Malta “in the name of farmers”.

Large franka blocks, cladded with used building stone, with a concrete top layer. Infrastructure Malta refer to these as ‘new rubble walls’.

Standard replies from Infrastructure Malta are nothing but puerile, devoid of any biodiversity protection and sustainability concepts. Who can believe IM today except those who are politically convinced that a circle is square? Even the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) is not always consulted.

One cannot help but think that this is the dictatorial fashion in which IM are spending EU funds, ignoring any suggestions, criticism and appeals by stakeholders.

The Central Link Project is another case where stakeholders are going to court regarding the way decisions have been taken without adequate consultation.

It is only natural that one asks the European Union if it can stop such destruction of priceless biodiversity in our small island, which is being financed by their funds.

It would also be helpful if European Union representatives come to see the works being done and not only meet officials behind closed doors but also meet the stakeholders, who are  ignored and not consulted.

Those who feel responsible for the country and its natural environment cannot stand by and stare at such destruction

Butchered trees at Santa Lucia where a journalist was threatened – 04.08.2019. 

The usual lame excuse by the ministry, that such destruction in valleys and country paths is to accommodate farmers, is indeed hilarious. To the extent that such valley roads are being tarmacked in lieu of potholed secondary streets in towns and villages, unless of course IM believes that there are no such roads to address.

The desperate position of Infrastructure Malta reached culmination point when it stated Wied Qirda was being tarmacked in an area which has for the last two years been earmarked for expropriation.

Works by Infrastructure Malta at Wied l-Isqof concreting valley paths and dislodging rubble walls “in the interest of farmers”.

Are we expected to applaud such ‘good governance’: tarmacking a private valley path which has as yet to be expropriated?

The news that the ministry of Ian Borg will also take over Ta’ Qali to transform it into a national park makes many hold their breath.

The mentality, lack of vision on biodiversity and approach of destroying the natural environment by this ministry’s agency cannot but lead to another environmental disaster, funded by the EU.

About 8 indigenous Holm Oak trees eradicated from Balzan valley, near Lija Cemetery, to widen the road. Works done by Infrastructure Malta.

The importation of trees grown in different habitats overseas, even if they are indigenous, to be planted as new trees or to replace mature ones would only please the chosen ‘landscaper’ or his representative.

For the record, “The Ministry for Transport and Infrastructure had appealed a tribunal’s (The Information and Data Protection Appeals Tribunal) decision and filed a court case (45/2017) against the Commissioner for Information and Data Protection, before the first hall of the Civil Court” for ordering the ministry to make available the public contract between government and ELC. Another official stand by this ministry against freedom of information on environmental matters.

One would be justified to ask what minister Borg is trying to achieve?

With his Infrastructure Malta at the helm of such destructive projects, he stands to lose not only his environmental credibility, if there is anything left to lose, but also his approach at handling, implementing and ensuring “sustainably and dynamically support the ongoing optimisation of the road network”.

Work is being executed by unprofessional personnel, who cannot see any light towards the need of the professional use, management and protection of biodiversity in a sustainable way, but blindfoldedly bulldoze over all stakeholders.

Those who feel responsible for the country and its natural environment, which has been loaned to us by future generations, cannot stand by and stare at such destruction.

Not everybody has a square-circled mentality in this country, and there are many conscientious people too in the party to which Minister Borg belongs.

Who would have thought that an old friend of mine with whom environmental matters were discussed would today be opposing such noble environmental principles?

It is important that future generations will know who was at the helm of such environmental destruction with the help of EU funds. Funds which could have been better used in a sustainable way for the benefit of society and the environment.

The legacy of environmental devastation, left by Infrastructure Malta, is there for one and all to see. Wied Qirda is another such legacy in their long list.

aebaldacchino@gmail.com

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’

 


Credit where credit is due

April 18, 2019

Alfred E Baldacchino

Thursday, 18 April 2019

Following concerns expressed by members of the public, eNGOs, and individuals, on the destruction of biodiversity in country paths which were being widened and covered with concrete, Environment Resources Authority (ERA) ordered Infrastructure Malta to halt the works, and issued a stop and compliance order. Furthermore, according to press reporting, ERA ordered Infrastructure Malta to reinstate the country paths to their original state.

One hopes that all country paths mismanaged by Infrastructure Malta will be reinstated to their original state. One also hopes that this is the end of an era where biodiversity is regarded as ‘ħaxix ħażin’ (good-for-nothing-vegetation) and that such mentality will be put to rest.

One cannot but applaud the stand ERA has taken and look out to more similar decisions in the near future to protect biodiversity.

The following is one of the article which appeared in the media.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Rabat country roads being reinstated after controversial widening

Recent concrete works encroached adjacent land

Keith Micallef

 

Country roads at Wied l-Isqof in Rabat are being reinstated to their original state. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

Country roads at Wied l-Isqof in Rabat are being reinstated to their original state. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

Some of the concrete controversially laid on country roads in a Rabat valley is being pulled up again by Infrastructure Malta on orders from the environment watchdog, which wants the roads to be reinstated to their original footprint.

The controversy erupted last month when it transpired that a number of narrow country roads used primarily by farmers at Wied l-Isqof were being widened, as part of a government project to “reconstruct” rural roads.

Faced by this outrage, the Environment Resources Authority ordered Infrastructure Malta to halt the works, through what it called a stop and compliance order. The measure was taken because the project was resulting in “biodiversity destruction”, ERA had said.

Infrastructure Malta argued that the roads in question were not being widened beyond their original footprint – even though evidence on the ground suggested otherwise.

However, an ERA spokeswoman confirmed that Infrastructure Malta had, in fact, encroached on adjacent land. She said that concreting beyond the original footprint was being removed by the roads agency’s contractors through the use of appropriate heavy machinery.

Several truckloads of material have been removed and dispatched for appropriate disposal to enable the area’s habitat to regenerate even in the area previously concreted, she said.

An onsite visit confirmed that the roads had been narrowed, with a stretch of soil replacing the concrete along the perimeter.

In its reply, ERA said it had intervened because the roadworks were degrading the ecosystem of the area beyond the asphalted area.

Among other things, the interventions had altered the physical profile of the valley and the natural course of the freshwater stream to the detriment of the biodiversity and the natural characteristics of the site, the spokeswoman said.

Environmentalists had denounced the works, saying vegetation was being obliterated as concrete was being poured beyond the existing footprint, damaging flora and fauna on both sides of the road.

Biodiversity expert and former assistant director of the environment protection directorate at the now defunct Malta environment and planning authority, Alfred Baldacchino, had warned that turning these roads into “highways” could have a detrimental effect on farmers due to the increase in traffic.

He also criticised the project, saying the concrete was blocking the percolation of rainwater to the water table.

aebaldacchino@gmail.com 

related articles:

More biodiversity destruction with EU funds – confirmed

EU funds destroy Maltese biodiversity

 

 

 


Let’s help the birds breed

April 2, 2015

times of malta

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Let’s help the birds breed

Alfred E. Baldacchino

I was introduced to birds before I could even speak. As a toddler, I used to frequent our house garden, observing the hens, rabbits and pigeons we kept for the occasional special lunch. But there was a rule for harvesting: the selected food for the table was not chosen haphazardly.

The brooding hens, nesting pigeons and rabbits with litters were spared and when they were harvested, they were not let loose and chased for the thrill of the kill.

juvenile-turtle-doves-in-malta---2012.07.01---Natalino-Fenech

If the parents did not escape the greed for the kill in spring, these juveniles would not have seen the light of day. Photo: Natalino Fenech 2012.07.01

Coming from Rabat, it was, at the time, almost impossible not to join relatives on trapping and shooting sprees, even at a tender age. I can still remember cycling, two hours before sunrise, to Dingli or Raba’ Nemel, to lay the nets for trapping finches or turtle doves. That was the way we were taught then. I also learnt to appreciate nature without the need to destroy it.

At the age of 12, we went to live in Cospicua. At first I thought I had lost the birds and the wildlife forever, though they were only a couple of kilometres away. My love for nature made me look for alternative ways. I used to go out for country walks on weekends and holidays, and I remember, in my early teens, buying magazines about nature. This opened the way for positive appreciation. I also bought a sophisticated ‘gun’, aiming at and shooting to my heart’s content, without the birds or other wildlife being harmed or even knowing about it. It was my first SLR camera.

quail-in-Malta-by-Natalino-Fenech

Quail – another breeding bird of the Maltese Islands, despite the urge to kill it. Photo: Natalino Fenech

Living in Cospicua, I experienced that sense of loss and anguish when birds were decimated and killed just for the fun of it, more so when this was claimed to be out of a love for birds.

The more I grew in years, knowledge and experience, the more satisfaction and pleasure did wildlife bring to me. The road was not an easy one: it was full of ups and downs. I often remind myself one is not paid to uphold one’s principles but one has to pay for them.

But I was determined to continue sharing my experience and knowledge with those who, though they really loved birds, unfortunately were never taught to express their appreciation in a positive way. Indeed, they were prevented from doing so because their love for birds was used or abused for political gain in exchange for their vote, irrespective of the negative psychological impact it had on them.

They formed part of a ‘minority’ that, instead of being encouraged to give their share, considering their knowledge, eagerness and enthusiasm, were abused for political gain.

What a wonderful place it would be if all those who love birds would work together to safeguard them so they could be positively appreciated and enjoyed by one and all, even by the shooters, for the benefit of the birds, the ecosystem and the country as a whole.

turtle-dove

How can one say that one loves birds and to show one’s appreciation one shoots to kill the bird one says one loves.

 

That is why I shall be voting No, to stop the hunting of birds during their breeding season. During their delicate time of reproduction, birds deserve the utmost care and protection. This is the basic concept of any true conservationist.

Voting No to spring shooting when the birds are on their way to breed will make us proud to be Maltese, at par with the best in the European Union. And only this will make birds and nature lovers unite.

I trust common sense will prevail.

aebaldacchino@gmail.com


Ir-Rabat, ir-Rabtin u l-Kunsill Lokali

October 7, 2014

NewsBook

Ir-Rabat, ir-Rabtin u l-Kunsill Lokali

it-Tlieta, 7 ta’ Ottubru, 2014

Alfred E. Baldacchino

Dawn l-aħħar ġimgħat ir-Rabtin kienu mħassba u xi ftit inkwetati minħabba proġett li qed isir bil-għajnuna ta’ fondi mill-Unjoni Ewropea li l-Kunsill Lokali tar-Rabat ġab għall-proġett li fassal għat-triq Santa Rita fejn kull nhar ta’ Ħadd kien jarma l-monti.

Mhux minħabba l-proġett innifsu, għaliex kulħadd huwa favur li jara li dan isir. Imma minħabba l-mod kif dan ġie u qiegħed jiġi amministrat mingħajr mar-Rabtin għandhom it-tagħrif li jixtiequ jkunu jafu, u kif huma ma humiex parti minn dawn id-deċiżjonijiet meħuda. Uħud minnhom isiru jafu bihom meta dawn jitħabbru.

l-ewwel intopp faqqa’ fuq is-sit eletroniku Rabti People who like or live in Rabat Malta meta tħabbar li sakemm jitlesta’ x-xogħol, il-monti kellu jmur fi triq it-tiġrija taħt is-Saqqajja fejn fl-Imnarja jtellqu l-ħmir u ż-żwiemel.

Dan kellu impatt fuq ir-Rabtin, ix-xerrejja li kienu jżuru l-monti nhar ta’ Ħadd u anki fuq il-bejjiegħa nfushom. U dan wassal għal numru ta’ kummenti, suġġerimenti pożittivi, u kritika kostruttiva li dehret  fuq is-sit eletroniku Rabti.

Imma mhux talli dawn ma ġewx mismugħa mill-Kunsill Lokali, imma lanqas biss ingħata kas tagħhom. Uħud ukoll qalu li xi deċiżżjonijiet tal-kunsill xi kultant jidhru li ttieħdu wara bibien magħluqa jew mingħajr konsultazzjoni wiesgħa biżżejjed.

Wara li sit eletroniku Rabti far b’dawn il-kummenti, bdew ħerġin xi kummenti minn xi membri tal-Kunsill. Mhux ċar jekk dawn kienux qed jitkellmu għan-nom tal-Kunsill jew kienux personali biex forsi jttaffu l-weġgħat ta’ dawk ir-Rabtin li tellgħu lil dawn il-membri li jirrapreżentaw  il-partiti l-kbar, fuq il-kunsill.

siġar-qabel-ma-nqalgħu

Ritratti meħuda mis-sit eletroniku Rabti: siġar qabel ma nqalgħu.

Il-kobba kompliet titħabbel meta beda x-xogħol. Numru ta’ siġar tal-wirdien, jew difla jew kif jafuhom xi wħud, siġar tal-oleandru, ġew maqlugħa minkejja li mhux kollha jidhru fil-permess tal-MEPA. Siġra oħra mħarsa bil-liġi ġiet maqlugħa u skont kif kiteb membru tal-Kunsill fuq is-sit eletroniku, ġiet imħawla d-Dwejra. Siġar oħra fuq il-post, li jissemmew fil-peremess tal-MEPA huma siġar tal-wirdien, awrikarja, ballut, tin u żebbuġ. Dawn kellhom jiġu mħawla fi Triq Santa Rita fil-postijiet indikati. Uħud minn dawn imħarsa bil-ligi jidhru li huma lesti għal qlugħ.  Mhux talli hekk talli l-permess tal-MEPA, bid-data tas-27 ta’ Ottubru 2010,  jidher ċar li dawk is-siġar li kellhom jinqalgħu riedu jithawlu fuq il-post mill-ġdid u mhux id-Dwejra. Permess tal-MEPA aktar qarib ma jitkellem xejn fuq qlugħ ta’ siġar.

siġar-maqlugħa-minn-triq-Santa-Rita-Rabat

Ritratti meħuda mis-sit eletroniku Rabti: siġar li għebu għalkollox.

U hawn wara li l-Kunsill Lokali naqas bil-kbir li jagħti tagħrif lil dawk ir-Rabtin li tellgħuh u oħrajn, u naqas ukoll li jilqa’ l-ilmeti tagħhom, wieħed ma jistax ma jagħmelx xi mistoqsijiet:

  1. Għaliex il-MEPA, wara dawn l-ilmenti kollha pubbliċi li saru u għadhom qed isiru mir-Rabtin dwar dan ix-xogħol, tibqa’ siekta u ma tiħux passi biex tara li x-xogħol isir skont il-kondizzjonijiet li għamlet?
  2. Għaliex is-Segretarju Parlamentari responsabbli mill-Kunsilli Lokali ma għamel l-ebda kumment, pubbliku jew le, fuq il-mod kif il-Kunsill Lokali tar-Rabat mhux qed jagħti kas tal-ilmenti Rabtin u mhux qed jitkellem magħhom b’mod uffiċjali dwar dan ix-xogħol u l-permessi li għandu?
  3. Għaliex il-wegħda 56 fil-programm elettorali tal-Gvern, li tgħid “Inħarsu kontinwament is-sigar eżistenti fl-ibliet u l-irħula Maltin u ninċentivaw it-tħawwil ta’ aktar siġar, partikolarment dawk indigeni” qed tiġi mwarrba, aktar u aktar meta l-Kunsill tar-Rabat huwa fil-maggoranza tiegħu mill-partit fil-gvern?
il-futur-imċajpar-ta'-siġar

Siġra oħra fi Triq Santa Rita, ir-Rabat, li l-futur tagħhom huwa mċajpar.

Dawn il-problemi setgħu ma nqagħlu xejn . U mhux xi ħaġa diffiċli biex wieħed jitkellem ma’ dawk kollha li għandhom interess fir-Rabat. Possibbli li f’dan il-pajjiż meta wieħed jikseb il-poter ma jara xejn ħażin meta ma jismax u jwarrab kompletament lil dawk li poġġewh hemm?

aebaldacchino@gmail.com

 

 

 


TKOMPLI L-QERDA FIL-ĠNIEN HOWARD… imma għaliex?

June 9, 2014

NewsBook

It-Tnejn, 9 ta’ Ġunju, 2014

TKOMPLI L­-QERDA FIL-ĠNIEN HOWARD… imma għaliex?

Alfred E. Baldachino

Kull darba li nitla’ nittawwal il-Ġnien Howard, dejjem niltaqa’ ma xi impatt negattiv ġdid. Xi kultant inħoss li f’dan il-pajjiż hawn xi direttiva jew xi politika uffiċjali biex l-ambjent naturali jew il-biodiversità ta’ pajjiżna tinqered, u minn jeqridha jitħallas minn flus pubbliċi.

Fit-2 ta’ Marzu 2014, tpoġġa ritratt fuq sit Rabti li wera ammont ta’ żrar li tferrex taħt is-siġar taż-żnuber fil-Ġnien Howard, ir-Rabat. Wara li tliet Rabtin marru l-uffiċċju tal-Prim Ministru, il-MEPA waqqfet dan ix-xogħol. Il-Kunsill Lokali (tal-Imdina) ġie ordnat li fi żmien xahar ineħħi dan iż-żrar li sar mingħajr permess. Il-K.L. Mdina appella minn din id-deċiżjoni. Issa għaddew tliet xhur u kollox għadu kif kien. Dan wassal biex inbdiet talba biex dan jitneħħa: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/665/188/518/?taf_id=11173325&cid=fb_na

Il-MEPA għadha qed tistudju, taħsibha, tixtarr, twieżen din il-problema u għadha ma ħadet l-ebda passi. Nafu li l-MEPA tħalli deċiżjonijiet bħal dawn minn ġurnata għal oħra sakemm forsi ssib kif taħsel idejha u ma tieħu l-ebda deċiżjoni, bħalma ġara fil-­każ taċ-ċimiterju f’Wied il-Qasab fin-Nadur Għawdex. Wieħed ma jistax ma jgħidx li l-MEPA ssibha bi tqila biex turi  interess fil-ħarsien tal-ambjent, qasam fejn falliet bil-kbir, saħansitra anki fi kwistjonijiet żgħar.

Il-kisi ta' parti mill-Ġnien Howard biż-żrar

Il-kisi ta’ parti mill-Ġnien Howard biż-żrar

Fl-aħħar mawra tiegħi r-Rabat, bħas-soltu mxejt matul il-ġnien; bdejt mill-ġnien tas-Salib, dak iż-żgħir, u pass pass wasalt sa fuq it-Tomba, li għal dawk li ma humiex midħla tal-Ġnien Rabti, hija l-aktar parti ’l ġewwa li tħares lejn l-Imtarfa, fuq l-istazzjon tal-ferrovija l-antik.

Fil-ġnien is-siġar tal-palm, dawk tal-kanizzati u dawk tat-tamal, kollha kienu meqruda mill-bumunqar aħmar tal-palm. Baqa’ biss il-fdal taz-zokk tagħhom: momument għal dik il-politika li minkejja li kellha l-parir biex ma jiġux impurtati siġar mill-Eġittu u minn Sqallija, xorta tat il-barka biex dawn jidħlu Malta. Baqa’ waħda biss, fil-kantuniera tat-Tomba tħares lejn il-Domus Romana u konvint li meta nerġa nitla’ r-Rabat, tkun għebet mal-oħrajn.

L-aħħar siġra tal-palm li baqa' fil-Ġnien Howard. L-oħrajn kollha mietu u nqatgħu

L-aħħar siġra tal-palm li baqa’ fil-Ġnien Howard. L-oħrajn kollha mietu u nqatgħu

 Dort dawra mejt mat-Tomba fejn matul dawn l-aħħar ġranet fix-xfar tal-wesgħa kien ikun hemm numru ta’ fjuri slavaġġ, fosthom is-suffejra ta’ Malta, endemika għall-gżejjer Maltin (ara ritratt). Il-biċċa l-kbira tagħhom għebu, mqaxxrin, u ma niskantax jekk kienu anki mbexxin bil-kimika velenuża biex ma jerġgħux jitilgħu aktar. Lanqas naħla ma tista’ tirgħa u ddakkar il-fjuri slavaġġ, minkejja li din ittina’ l-għasel u ddakkar il-frott. U dan fi ġnien.

Suffejra tar-raba' li kienet tikber madwar it-tomba.

Suffejra ta’ Malta li kienet tikber madwar it-Tomba.

Jiena u ħiereġ lura mit-­Tomba għan-naħa tad-Domus Romana, inħsadt. Ftit ġimgħat ilu kien hemm numru ta’ pjanti slavaġġ bħal ngħidu aħna ġarġir abjad, ħarira ħamra, fjurdulis, u oħrajn li kollha, mingħajr ħlas, kienu jlibbsu l-inħawi bil-kuluri u jwieżnu insetti dakkara, fosthom in-naħal. Dawn għebu għax kollha ġew maħruta u ma kien baqa’ xejn minnhom. Imħallas mill-K.L. Mdina, bi flus pubbliċi, ma għadniex xi ngħidu. Imma l-isbaħ, u li vera turi l-mentalità miskina ta’ dan il-pajjiż, wara li qerdu kull fjura u werqa Maltija li kienet qed tikber f’dawn il-mixtliet, x’taħsbu li ħallew? Penisetum (Fountain Grass), pjanta invażiva li qed tintuża mill-kuntrattur tal-Gvern fit-toroq u li sabet ruħha fil-Ġnien Howard; minkejja li din hija invażiva u qed tinfirex madwar il-gżejjer Maltin kemm fit-toroq, kif ukoll fl-ambjent naturali. Din tħalliet hemm!

Ġarġir Abjad kien isebbaħ il-=mixtliet fil-ġnien. Inqered kollu.

Ġarġir Abjad kien isebbaħ il-mixtliet fil-ġnien. Inqered kollu.

U hawnhekk sfortunatament niddejjaq ngħid li dan il-pajjiz milli jidher ma jista’ jinfeda qatt. Il-valur li jingħata lill-biodiversità huwa valur ta’ flus biss. Jekk wieħed jixtri pjanta jew siġra, dan itiha valur. Imma jekk pjanta tikber waħeda, allura din ma għandiex valur u tista’ tinqered, u titbexx bil-kimika valenuża biex ma terġax titla’. U mhux talli hekk, talli din il-qerda għandha l-approvazzjoni uffiċjali u tithallas minn flus il-poplu.

 

2012.12.28---it-Tomba---karozzi,-siġar-imutu,-u-penisetum
It-Tomba, fil-Ġnien Ħoward, taħt ir-responsabbiltà tal-K.L. tal-Imdina
– Karozzi, siġar tal-palm qed imutu jew mietu. u pjanti invażivi tal-Penisetum.

 L-akbar xokk ta’ din il-metalità miskina ta’ dan il-pajjiż kien in-numru ta’ karozzi li bdew deħlin biex jistrieħu fuq it-Tomba. Tista’ timmaġina karozzi fi ġnien? Qaluli li kien hemm tieġ l-Imdina u hekk il-K.L.Mdina jħalli is-serħan tal-karozzi fil-Ġnien Howard. Jista’ wieħed jimmagina kieku l-K.L. Mdina jħalli karozzi fil-foss fil-passaġġi fejn sar ġnien għall-familja? Jew iħalli l-karozzi kollha tat-tieġ jidħlu l-Imdina u jitħallew quddiem il-Katidral? Jew aħjar jitqiegħdu fuq iz-zuntier tal-Katidral? U aktar u aktar jiddaħħlu ġewwa l-Katidral? Ara kieku kif ir-residenti tal­-Imdina u l-Maltin iqumu għal minn ikun ta dan il-permess. Mhux talli hekk talli l­-ebda karozza ma tista’ tidħol ġol­-Imdina, ħlief dawk tar-­residenti. Imma li l-karozzi jitqiegħdu ġo ġnien fir-Rabat, jidher li kollox sew għall-K.L. Mdina!

2014.05.23 - Calendula-suffruticosa-subsp.-fulgida3

L-anqas naħla ma tista’ ddakkar fjura u tagħmel l-għasel

Li jinkwetani huwa li milli jidher ma hemm l-ebda entità politika li hija responsabbli biex twaqqaf dawn l-oxxenitajiet. Suppost li hemm Ministeri li huma responsabbli mit-trasport; mill-ġonna; mill-Kunsilli Lokali, u anki mill-MEPA. Din tal-aħħar issa ħaditha drawwa li meta jkun hemm il-qerda tal-ambjenbt tħares in-naħa l-oħra sakemm xi ħadd minn fuqha jiġbdilha l­attenzjoni. Ara ż-żrar issa għadu hemm tliet xhur minkejja l-protesti tan-nies u nuqqas ta’ permessi. U la ma hemm l-ebda azzjoni ministerjali, allura wieħed jista’ jgħid li dawn għandhom il-barka ta’ min imexxi. Kont anki naħseb li r-Rabat hemm kunsill lokali wkoll, imma mid-dehra sejjer żball. Wara kollox kappell ma jmejjilx lill-ieħor.

Mill-esperjenza li għandi u mill-kuntatti li għandi mal-Kunsilli Lokali ma nsibhiex diffiċli biex ngħid li l-Kunsill tal-Imdina ma jħabbatha miegħu ħadd fuq in-nuqqas ta’ apprezzament tal-ambjent: il-foss tal-Imdina, il-Ġnien Howard, u issa smajt l-għajdut li qed ikun hemm xi ħsibijiet biex jinqalgħu dawk is-siġar ta’ taħt it-Tomba li jwasslu sa Għajn Ħamam biex din il-wesgħa tintuża għall-karozzi. Wieħed għad irid jara x’se jiġri imma, għalkemm jekk din tasal sa għand il­MEPA wieħed jista’ jgħid mill-ewwel x’se jiġri.

Il-fdalijiet tas-iġra tal-palm fil-ġnien Howard, ir-Rabat. Pedestal lest għal minn daħħal il-bumunqar aħmar f'dawn il-gżejjer.

Il-fdalijiet tas-siġar tal-palm fil-ġnien Howard, ir-Rabat. Pedestal lest għal minn daħħal il-bumunqar aħmar f’dawn il-gżejjer.

Kif jgħidu mhux il-flus u l-poter jagħmluk matur u konxju għall-weġgħat tas-soċjetà u tal-ambjent. Anzi ħafna drabi huma dawn li jwasslu għal dawn il-weġgħat, aktar u aktar meta wieħed isib ruħu jgħum fihom.

aebaldacchino@gmail.com

alfredbaldacchino.wordpress.com

 

 


IR-RABJA TAR­-RABTIN… u bir-­raġun

March 10, 2014

 NewsBook

It-Tnejn, 10 ta’ Marzu, 23014

IR­-RABTIN IRRABJATI… u bir-­raġun

Alfred E. Baldacchino

Howard-Gardens

Ritratt: Joseph Sultana

Wieħed mill­-karatteristiċi tar-­Rabat huwa l­-ġnien Howard li hemm qabel ma tidħol l-Imdina. Dan il­-ġnien, kontra kif jaħsbu xi wħud, huwa msemmi għal Malti John Howard, li twieled il-­Belt fl­-1862. Kien Prim Ministru ta’ Malta bejn 1921 u 1923.

Joseph-howard-prime-minister

Joseph Howard
(1862 – 1925)

Il-­ġnien huwa maqsum fi tnejn: dak il­-kbir u dak iż­-żgħir jew kif jafuh xi wħud, il­-ġnien tas-­salib. Dawk li huma tal­-età tiegħi u huma mir­-Rabat, jiftakru ż-żgħożija tagħhom f’dan il-­ġnien mal­-ġenituri tagħhom jilgħabu b’xi ballun, jew bir­-rota jduru man­-numru ta’ ħammiela li madwarhom il-­ġnien huwa mfassal. Dawk akbar fl-età kont tarahom jippassiġġaw matul il­-mgħodija ewlenija li tħares għal fuq il-foss tal-Imdina. Ħafna b’għajnejhom mixgħulin iħarsu lejn xi ġuvni jew xi tfajla biex jisirqu xi tbissima jew jiġbdu xi ħarsa. Kienu ġranet sbieħ, b’dawk fuq l-għoxrin li jkun irnexxilhom jagħmlu ħbieb, fuq xi bank taħt xi siġra jitkellmu fil-widnejn, kif dawk żgħar kienu jaħsbu. Żmien ta’ innoċenza u żmien sabiħ li llum tar mar-­riħ.

Għalkemm issa ili nieqes mir-­Rabat aktar minn ħamsin sena, xorta nagħmel żjara lil dan il-­ġnien kull meta nista’ biex niftakar f’dawk il­­-ġranet sbieħ ta’ żgħożiti. Imma kull darba li nmur hemm nitlaq lura bi qsim il-­qalb. Spiċċaw dawk il­-ħammiliet kollha fjuri msoqqija u mnaqqija bi mħabba u b’għira. Spiċċaw dawk il-ħwat mimlijin ilma bil-­­ħut fihom. Saħansitra anki għebu dawk is-­siġar tal-palm xjuħ li nqerdu mill­-Bumunqar Aħmar tal­-Palm, wara deċiżjonijiet politiċi żbaljati li wittew it-­triq biex dan fl-­2007 daħal fil­-gżejjer Maltin.

Il-fdalijiet-ta'-siġra-tal-palm (A E Baldacchino)


Waħda mill-ħafna fdalijiet ta’ siġar tal-palm li llum wieħed jista’ jara fil-ġnien Howard (A E Baldacchino)

Bħallikieku dan mhux biżżejjed dan l-­aħħar dan il­-ġnien waqa’ vittma ta’ deċiżjonijiet, ma nistax ma nsejħilhomx stupidi, mingħajr ebda viżjoni ta’ tfassil u mmanniġar professjonali. Fit-­2 ta’ Marzu, ħarget  l-aħbar fuq il-blog Rabti https://www.facebook.com/groups/rabatmalta/   fejn r-Rabti Joseph Sultana,  poġġa ritratt ta’ kif dan il-­ġnien ġie mżeblaħ u abbużat. U r­Rabtin qamu f’daqqa u għajtu b’għajta f’rabja Rabtija, li ma ridux minn ikasbarhom u ma ridux min jgħaddi ż­-żmien bihom.

Żrar-fil-ġnien


Żrar li ntefa’ fuq il-ħamrija minflok l-imlieqa biex il-Kunsill tal-Imdina jsebbaħ l-art (Ritratt: Joseph Sultana)

Ħaġa li la jiena u lanqas numru ta’ Rabtin oħra ma jistgħu jifhmu hija kif dan il­-ġnien huwa taħt ir­-responsabbiltà tal-­Kunsill Lokali tal-Imdina, meta dan huwa barra mis­-swar. U ħaga oħra li tweġġa ħafna lil Rabtin hija kif dan il­-Kunsill tal-Imdina, minn wara s­-swar jidher li huwa maqtugħ mill­-ħajja f’dawn l­-inħawi tar­-Rabat, qabad u ddeċieda, wara li ftiehem kif qal is­-segretarju eżekuttiv tal­-Kunsill, ma’ studenti minn Istitut tal-­agrikoltura Franċiż. Dawn iddeċiedew li jaqalgħu parti mill-imlieqa (jiġifieri l-­hedges) li jdawru l­-ġnien u li l­-Kunsill qal li huma ħajt, jgħattu l­-ħamrija bil­-plastik, jiksu dan il-­plastik biż­-żrar, u jħawwlu kaktus u sukkulenti oħra, li skont il­-kelliemi tal­-Kunsill Lokali tal­-Imdina, huma pjanti indiġeni, jiġifieri pjanti Maltin. Minn fejn ġab dan it-­tagħrif xjentifiku żbaljat il-kelliem għall­-Kunsill Lokali tal­-Imdina ma nafx. U ma naħsebx li ġabu minn Franza lanqas, għaliex kieku dawn kienu jifhmu fil­-biodiversità u mhux ċwieċ kif-intqal, kienu

kaktus-indiġenu-kif-intqal

Skont il-pariri li ngħata l-Kunsill Lokali tal-Imdina, dawn il-kaktus huma kollha speci indiġeni Maltin
(Ritratti: Joseph Sultana)

jgħidulu li dawn mhumiex pjanti Maltin. U kif il-­kelliem għall­-Kunsill Lokali tal­-­Imdina qal ukoll, hemm il­-ħsieb li dan jitkompla s-­sena d-dieħla biex il­­ġnien iż­-żgħir jiddawwar b’dan iż-­żrar, bil­-għajununa tal­-konsulenza barranija, bi flus Maltin, u bi pjanti barranin, u mingħajr bdil ta’ fehmiet mar-Rabtin.

Lili weġġgħani l­-kliem tar-­rapreżentant tal-­Kunsill tal-­Imdina fejn ġie allegat li qal li min ma jifhimx aħjar ma jitkellimx, għax dan ix­-xogħol mhux isir minn xi ċuċ. Imma min qal li l-­kaktus imħawwel huwa indiġenu, dan jifhem ħafna u ara wieħed ma jaħsebx li huwa xi ċuċ.

Li jweġġa’ lir­-Rabtin f’din l-­affari kollha huwa li l-­Kunsill tal-­Imdina ma kellux il-ħeġġa u l-għaqal biex jitkellem ma’ dawk li għandhom interess f’dan il­-ġnien skedat u jara x’jaħsbu, kemm b’mod ġenerali l-Maltin, kif ukoll aktar u aktar ir-­Rabtin li jqisu li dan il-­ġnien huwa tagħhom. Imma saru diskuzzjonijiet, ftehim u finanzjar ta’ dan il-progett ma’ studenti barranin, mingħajr ma ġew diskussi ma’ ħadd.

Aktar u aktar is-­skiet tal­-Kunsill tar-­Rabat, li meta ra u sema’ bir­-rabja tar-­Rabtin, li wara kollox kienu huma li poġġewhom hemm, huma ta’ liema partit huma, biex iħarsu l-­interessi tar-­Rabat, baqgħu friski bħal ħassa. Ma fethux ħalqhom, sallum għall-­anqas. U mid­-dehra l­-Kunsill tal-­Imdina u l-­Kunsill tar­-Rabat jimxu id f’id għaliex dak tal­-Imdina baqa’ sieket, wisq probabli b’idejn waħda fuq għajnejh u fuq widnejh u bl-­oħra fuq ħalqu, u ma tniffsux fuq l­-istragi li saret fil-­foss tal-­Imdina, minkejja l­-protesti tar­-Rabtin. U anki dak tar­-Rabat baqa’ sieket mhux biss fil­-proġett tal-­foss tal-Imdina, imma anki meta s­-siġar ta’ fuq is-Saqqajja ġabhuhom aktar jixbhu arbli tad-­dawl milli siġar. Issa wkoll qisu ma qed jiġri xejn minkejja r­-rabja Rabtija. Kunsilli Lokali bħal dawn ma naħsebx li jistgħu jkunu kburin bil­kisbiet tagħhom, aktar u aktar meta dawn ma jinżlux tajjeb ma’ minn poġġiehom hemm.  Il-Kunsilli, kif jixhdu oħrajn ħabrieka madwar Malta u Għawdex, mhux qegħdin hemm biex jingħalqu bejn erba’ ħitan, ġo kamra wara s-swar, jew biex jirritaw ir-­residenti tal­-lokal jew tal-­lokalitajiet ġirien.  Hemm bżonn li kunsilli bħal dawn joħorġu minn wara s-­swar, kemm dawk fiżiċi, kif ukoll dawk psikoloġiċi, u jimxu id f’id mar­-residienti u l­-ġirien jekk iridu għarfien tax-xogħol tagħhom.

Imma kull azzjoni għanda reazjzoni kif jgħidu, u din narawha anki fil-qasam soċiologiku. Dan ġara meta l­-mexxejja, f’dan il-­każ dawk tal-lokal, agħżlu li jinqatgħu minn nies. Naraw li minn qalb in­-nies nibtu dawk li ma kienux jistgħu jifiħu aktar għal din l-­apatija u xogħolijiet li ma jaqblux magħhom. U hekk ġara wkoll hawn. Tliet Rabtin, Joseph Sultana, Karistu Abela, u Chris Farrugia, haduha fuqhom biex ma jħallux din il-­ħsara ambjentali tkompli ssir, qisu ma kien qed jiġri xejn fir­-Rabat, u r-Rabtin irrabjati mingħajr għajnuna minn ħadd. Għamlu kumitat ta’ azzjoni u marru jippreżentaw ittra f’Kastilja nhar il­-Ħamis 7 ta’ Marzu.

Ma nistax ma nistaqsiex ukoll. Xi tgħid il­-MEPA li hija il­-kelb tal­-għassa dwar affarijiet ambjentali? Veru li kważi sa tagħlaq sena lid-Direttorat tal-­Ambjent għadu mhux taħt ir-­responsabbiltà tal-Minsteru responsabbli għall­-Ambjent u jidher li qishom qed iħossuhom  li r­responsabbiltà ambjentali mhux tagħhom. Imma r­-responabbiltà ambjentali għada tal­-MEPA kollha kemm hi. Xi kultant, b’dispjaċir kbir u kontra qalbi ngħid u nħoss li qisha ­kelb tal-­għassa bħal dawk li hemm biswit fil-kura tal-SPCA. Dawn ma jitniffsu xejn sakemm xi ħadd iħabbat fuq il-­bieb. Nispera li l-MEPA tieħu azzjoni wara dan it-­taħbit kollu fuq biebha dwar ir­-responsabbiltà tagħha għall-ħarsien tal-ambjent, li sa xħin qed nikteb għadha ma qalet xejn lanqas.

Jiena konvint li wara ż­-żjara tar­-Rabtin f’Kastillja, nisimgħu minn għand il-­MEPA. B’din it­-taħbita ma jistgħux ma jqumux mill­-apatija li għandhom lejn il-­ħarsien tal­-ambjent ta’ pajjiżna, li mingħajr dubju huwa tagħna lkoll.

aebaldacchino@gmail.com

 


Rabat Road Rubble Walls

December 21, 2013

times

The rubble wall approach

Saturday, 21st December, 2013.

Alfred E. Baldacchino

Summer of 2011 saw Transport Malta working on the Rabat road in connection with the arrival of the Arriva public transport. An interchange with two bus stops was planned adjacent to the road leading to Ta’ Qali.

How the rubble wall protection regulations was brought to disrepute for one and all to see

2011 – the brick wall replacing the rubble wall along Rabat road.

Two stretches of protected rural rubble walls, one on each side of the road were illegally brought down and replaced by a brick wall. The plans also included tree mutilations, at that time so reminescent of Transport Malta: a number of protected Aleppo Trees more than 50 years old in this Outside Development Zone felt the brunt and the chainsaw, one with a substantial limb cut off, some had nails driven in them, and others engulfed in concrete (‘Trees, rubble walls and BSS’, August 26, 2011).  

2011-08-24-chopped-aleppo-pine

2011 – The brutal pruning of the protected Aleppo Pine, carried out by MEPA’s approval.

Mepa, the environmental watchdog, watched from a distance in its Floriana ravelin. When public criticism escalated, and the brick walls were completed, Mepa, through a letter in the Times (06.09.11) informed the public that it had given “Transport Malta up to 15 days to remove the illegality, following which Mepa may then take direct action.” 15 day passed, followed by 15 weeks and the brick walls were still standing. After the lapse of about another 15 months – during which Mepa, was still ruminating on its impotency to control the mauling of environmental and public assets, presumably still contemplating its original 15 days deadline – the brick walls were pulled down. And lo and behold, they were replaced by iron railings ­ as illegal as the brick walls they replaced in the rubble wall breach!

According to the Rubble Wall and Rural Structures (Conservation and Maintenance Regulations, 1997, a “rubble wall” means a dry stone wall, built-in loose, unhewn stones which stands by gravity and friction without the use of mortar. Furthermore, it is unlawful to demolish or to endanger by any means whatsoever, the stability or integrity of any rubble wall, or to prevent free percolation of rainwater through the structure of a rubble wall, or to undermine the foundations of such rubble wall.

Rumours had it that a roundabout was planned at the cross-section to Ta’ Qali, including more tree mutilations and uprooting of some of the old protected Aleppo Pines. But before such plans were put into action the date for the general election was announced.

2013.12.02 - new rubble wall

November 2013 – the new rubble wall replacing the iron railing which replaced the brick wall built-in 2011

Last month, heavy machinery descended on the area. The iron railings disappeared. Instead two rubble walls rose from beneath the street level, incorporating also two bus stops. Not only the old Aleppo Pines were not touched, but the suffocating concrete around their trunks was broken up to allow for a water trench. Even the nails which were driven in the tree

2013.12.02 - new water trench for trees

November 2013 – new water trenches replacing concrete around old protected trees

trunks during 2011 were removed. From the works on site, it seems that there are no plans for any roundabout. Pity that the new rubble walls surface were covered with cement which will prevent free percolation of rainwater through the structure, contrary to the above mentioned regulations. Rubble walls are protected amongst others, because they afford a habitat for flora and fauna.

2013.12.02 - cement covered rubble wall

November 2013 – the unfortunate decision of covering the newly built rubble walls with concrete

It seems though that there is a little flicker of light (and of hope) at the end of the tunnel and that, at least in this case, the planning and adjustment of roads is not at the whims and fancies of an uncontrolled bulldozer, but subject to professional planning and environmental management, although this can be bettered. One hopes that this approach, a bit more refined, is extended and taken in consideration in other development projects, whether on land or at sea.  If this becomes the rule of thumb, then one can hopefully look at the day when environment and development ­ not excluding landscaping ­ can walk hand in hand with mutual economical, social and ecological benefits. In the meantime one can only keep one’s fingers crossed and hope that Mepa’s unprofessional interpretation of its vision will be something of the past, for the good of the country and this and future generations.

fingerscrossed