April 30, 2012

29th April, 2012



Alfred E. Baldacchino 

A very interesting debate has developed on the site Save the Trees which can be accessed on:

An outstanding feature on the above blog is that 99% of the bloggers who love trees and biodiversity are criticising the official persecution and  massacre of trees in the Maltese Islands.  But those who express such concern are taken to task by one particular blogger who clams that he works at ELC.

2012.04.26 - Up till a few days ago, these orange trees where in full bloom

Sometimes I can hardly believe what I read on this blog in defence of the mutilation of trees and biodiversity by ELC. It is to the tune of the official Government  policy on projects relating to biodiversity, despite the electoral promise of an environmental column. Such a blogger says they he is  writing in his own personal capacity, a right which he has and which he can exercise to create such a discussion. Yet details are given which the public is not aware of. This makes one think that ELC is finding it very convenient to let their alleged workers speak for them, and these cannot do otherwise but  laud all ELC’s works of wonder.  They would certainly be shown the back door if they were to write something which the ELC, or their Ministry, does not approve of. They would be charged with conflict of interest  if   they  criticise, even constructively,  the works of their Ministry. And they will surely get the axe if they make a faux pas, even if what they say  might have been suggested to them.

In criticising Ministerial projects, although the EU obliges public consultations on public projects, blogers are called names, accused of not knowing anything about trees and their ‘pruning’ and also accused of belittiling the ELC workers. This still happens, despite the fact that time and time again, all blogers have made it clear  that workers have to do what they are ordered to do and cannot be held accountable for executing the decisions taken by their employers or their Minister.  But this calling of names is something which is now very synonymous  with such quarters.

2012.04.26 - orange trees in full bloom awaiting the chainsaw and the bulldozer!

The ELC is responsible to the Minister of Resource, whom it shields.  The mania about creating gardens in such fashion, is something well known within this Ministry. A few years ago there was an attempt to transform Buskett into a garden!!

A wild Laurel tree at Buskett - an EU Natura 2000 site - mutilated by ELC with Ministerial approval, in the attempt to transform Buskett into a garden, before MEPA intervened and stopped the works.

Everyone knows of the massacre executed at Buskett by ELC with the blessing of their Minister. Now we have the transformation of the Mdina Ditch into a garden, with TURF and fountains as the Save the Tree site  have been informed by  an ELC alleged spokesman.

Uprooting trees to create  a garden….. very hard to believe. Substituting them with  TURF which takes gallons and gallons of water, such a rare resource in the Maltese Islands, especially in the hot summer months.  The paving of straight-line paths furthermore contributed  to the uprooting of  even more trees. This Ministry seems to have a mania with expanses of turf and dancing-water and fountains, like the dancing-water at St. George’s Square in Valletta. And believe it or not, all this  has been approved by a Ministry responsible for the local scarce resource of WATER, and also for Climate change!!  Unbelievable! I am sure that a  spokesman for this Ministry will come up with some crude explanation and possibly with  more calling of names. But one has to accept that some Ministries  are very good at this type of dialogue! It is their forte.

2012.04.06 - The beauty of the Mdina Ditch - a biodiversity haven. Is this going to be cleared away to make room for a garden? And is this going to be undertaken by EU funds as an insider from ELC has indicated?

The reference to EU funds by the ELC alleged-worker in the Save the Trees blog is interesting because it is coming from this semi-official  bloger in favour of this project leading the public to understand that this project is funded by the EU, saying that 85% of the total cost of the €6.2m project is being funded by the EU! This creates and incongruency with the press release issued by the Minister which  said that it was being done by the Minster’s (public) funds “The works are being carried out by the Restoration Directorate of the Ministry for Resources and Rural Affairs.” No mention of EU funds; and “The project, costing  €1,200,000, is due to be completed by the end of this year.”  See the attached link for the official press release:

When I visited the site, I failed to notice any reference to any EU involvement on the site. Now if there are any funds from the EU, one of the obligations is that the EU logo has to appear on all the publicity for the project. There are now two version with reference to the financial input to this project: the Ministerial publicity which refrains from mentioning any EU involvement; and EU funding according to a bloger with ELC connections.  Which is the correct version?  I am sure that the EU would be very interested in knowing  how its funds, if it has funded this project, are being ‘used’ and ‘managed’, what the public opinion vis-a-vis this project is, and how such project is impacting on biodiversity!

According to EU obligations, whether it has financed the project or not, the  public is entitled to a breakdown of the money which is going into this project, such as  how much the turf will cost, the quantity of water it will consume per annun and at what cost; how much will be the upkeep, how much did the planners and designers charge, and how much will the launching of the  project cost.

The lack of any biodiversity and social concept are evidently lacking to any informed visitor. This view is sustained by the comments supporting this project on the Save the Trees  blog: Orange trees are being uprooted because they interfere with the vision of the bastions, but fountains do not! And insects and birds aren’t going to commit suicide, if they do not find a tree, they go on another one, the  Rabat environs are full of trees. ( L-insetti u l-ghasafar mhux ser jaghmlu suwwicidju, jekk ma jsibux sigra, imorru fuq ohra, inhawi tar-Rabat huma mimlija sigar min daqsekk). Not surprising at all since this is the recurring approach used by the Ministry under whose responsibility this project falls!  No wonder that when the same Ministry was responsible for the EU measure to tackle biodiversity loss, it made a complete mess and failure out of it.

The official Ministerial publicity material attached to the bastins, (shown above) states that this project is a Rehabillitation of the ditch. In contrast, the bloger with ELC inside informations states that “The ditch outside Mdina’s bastions from Greek’s gate to Xara Palace including the area below the main gate, is being turned into a recreational space which will be open to the public”. There is a great difference between ‘rehabilitation of the ditch’ and changing its use to a recreational area, especially when the tennis court, the basketball pitch, and the football pitch, which formed part of the ditch to be rehabilitated have been removed.

Somebody is surely trying to take the people for a ride despite the fact that the Prime Minister has promised that he will come closer to the people to listen to what they  have to say…………    I understand that heeding it is another matter!


Il-kapriċċ tal-proprjetà vojta (2) Ħadd mhu jerfa’ l-ħtija tan-nuqqas ta’ ppjanar

July 26, 2011

Il-kapriċċ tal-proprjetà vojta (2) 
Ħadd mhu jerfa’ l-ħtija tan-nuqqas ta’ ppjanar

minn aleander balzan

KIF irraportat minn din il-gazzetta nhar il-Ħadd li għadda, fi ftit snin żdiedu bl-eluf in-numru ta’ proprjetajiet vojta f’pajjiżna. Skont iċ-chairman tal-Awtorità tal-Ambjent u l-Ippjanar (MEPA), Austin Walker, huwa stmat li llum għandna 76,000 proprjetà vojta. Minkejja dan ħadd mhu qiegħed jerfa’ l-ħtija ta’ dan in-nuqqas ta’ ppjanar. Fi kliem l-ambjentalisti Alfred E. Baldacchino u Astrid Vella dan in-nuqqas ta’ ppjanar qiegħed iwassal għal ħela ta’ riżorsi enormi.

Alfred E. Baldacchino, li huwa speċjalizzat fl-ippjanar u l-immaniġjar tal-ambjent argumenta mat-TORĊA li dawn il-proprjetajiet vojta “huma ħela ta’ riżorsi finanzjarji kif ukoll riżorsi naturali li ftit li xejn għandna minn fejn naħlu. Dan huwa wkoll nuqqas ta’ ippjanar serju għaliex wieħed qed iħares biss lejn ir-riżultat fiż-żmien il-qasir.”

“L-impatt fuq l-ambjent hu tant negattiv li qiegħed ikun hemm ħela ta’ riżorsi naturali, bħat-teħid tal-art, anki ta’ valur kbir ekoloġiku, storiku, u rikreattiv, tifrik ta’ sistemi fl-ippjanar tal-ambjent bħal sistemi tal-ġbir tal-ilma tax-xita, sfreġju u qerda ta’ sistemi ekoloġiċi bħall-ispeċi ta’ fawna u flora, u produzzjoni ta’ skart li jirriżulta mill-bini,” jargumenta Baldacchino li jgħid li dawn ir-riżorsi jistgħu jintużaw f’oqsma oħra.

“L-użu tar-riżorsi kemm naturali kif ukoll finanzjarji jistgħu faċilment jintużaw f’attivitajiet oħra minflok bini u bini li ma hawnx bżonnu. Permessi għar-restawr xorta waħda jkun hemm bżonnhom, imma hemm bżonn ukoll diversifikazzjoni. Il-’valur’ ta’ dawn il-ħela ta’ riżorsi mill-aspett ekonomiku qiegħed isir għas-spejjeż tal-valur soċjali u dak ambjentali,” żied Baldacchino.

Responsabbiltà tal-banek 
Fil-ħarġa ta’ nhar il-Ħadd li għadda l-ekonomista Joe Vella Bonnici argumenta li s-settur bankarju qiegħed ikun iktar kawt. “Ta’ min jgħid li llum is-settur bankarju rari jsellef għal bini ġdid. Dan wara ħafna twissijiet mill-International Monetary Fund li l-banek tagħna kellhom exposure qawwi fuq il-proprjetà,” qal Vella Bonnici.

Alfred E. Baldacchino u Astrid Vella wkoll jitkellmu dwar il-banek u fuqhom jitfgħu anke responsabbiltà.

“Naħseb li hawn tidħol ir-responsabbiltà kemm tal-banek lokali kif ukoll tal-MEPA. Sfortunatament, il-banek m’ għandhomx ħjiel tal-Corporate Social Responsibility u jaħsbu li għax iqassmu xi ċekk stampat kbir kbir qegħdin jilħqu dan il-għan. Għalihom imbasta jisilfu l-flus u jdaħħlu l-interessi. Jekk proġetti jibqgħu vojta u fil-proċess jinħlew ir-riżorsi jgħidlulek li mhix responsabbiltà tagħhom,” qal Baldacchino.

Astrid Vella żżid mal-argument u min-naħa tagħha telabora dwar l-impatt li dawn id-deċiżjonijiet qegħdin iħallu fuq is-soċjetà Maltija.

“It-twemmin popolari li s-suq għandu jirregola lilu nnifsu huwa żbaljat għax wieħed ikun qiegħed jassumi li huma biss l-iżviluppaturi li jġorru r-riskju li qegħdin jieħdu. Kuntrarju għal dan it-twemmin, rapport dwar l-istabbilità finanzjarja tal-Bank Ċentrali, għas-sena 2010, jgħid li d-dgħufija preżenti fis-settur tal-proprjetà tpoġġi riskju fuq is-saħħa tas-settur finanzjarju Malti dan għax il-proprjetà tirrappreżenta ħafna mis-self tal-banek. Din toħloq riskju fi żmien li s-sitwazzjoni tal-proprjetà qiegħda twassal għal ‘defaulting loans’,” tispjega Vella.

L-irwol tal-MEPA 
Iż-żewġ ambjentalisti jaqblu dwar il-falliment tal-MEPA fi rwol tagħha ta’ regolatur.

“Mill-banda l-oħra, il-MEPA, li suppost għandha r-responsabbiltà dwar l-ippjanar ma nistax nifhem kif 76,000 post vojt wieħed jista’ jgħidli li huwa ppjanar tajjeb, bl-impatti negattivi kollha li dawn iġibu magħhom, kemm direttament kif ukoll indirettament,” jargumenta Baldacchino.

Astrid Vella żżid ma’ dan l-argument: “Il-falliment tal-MEPA li tassumi r-responsabbiltajiet tagħha bħala regolatur – li ħolqot mentalità ta’ ġirja biex nibnu – mhux biss irrovinat l-irħula tagħna u l-qalba tal-villaġġi iżda ironikament wasslet għal tnaqqis fil-bejgħ tal-proprjetà.”

“Il-MEPA falliet fid-dmir tagħha li tirrikonċilja d-drittijiet li wieħed jiżviluppa l-proprjetà privata ma’ dak ta’ saħħa tajba. Li neħħejna d-djar biex għamilna l-appartamenti għandu effett doppju għax iwassal għal iktar karozzi f’żoni residenzjali,” qalet Vella li elaborat dwar l-effetti ta’ dan il-bini żejjed, b’mod partikolari fuq saħħet in-nies.

Alfred E. Baldacchino jċanfar ukoll lill-awtoritajiet għax għażlu triq li wasslet għal iktar bini ġdid flok irranġar u restawr ta’ dak li għandna.

“Hawn ħafna bini mitluq, qadim, storiku, u mibni b’konsiderazzjoni ambjentali siewja, imma n-nuqqas ta’ ippjanar li jeżisti jwassal biex minflok dan jitranġa u jkun restawrat, dan jitwaqqa’ u jittella’ bini ġdid, fil-forma ta’ kerrejjiet moderni, biex ngħidu hekk. Dan minkejja li hawn kemm domanda għal dawn il-postijiet (bini qadim restawrat), kif ukoll hawn kuxjenza qawwija nazzjonali biex dawn ikunu restawrati kif ukoll salvati. Imma mid-dehra dan mhux parti tar-responsabbiltà ta’ min huwa inkarigat biex jara li l-ippjanar ta’ dawn il-gżejjer isir minn kull aspett, kemm soċjali, kemm ambjentali kif ukoll ekonomiku. L-importanza li tingħata hija biss mill-aspett ekonomiku u l-oħrajn jiġu kompletament injorati. Ħadd ma jgħid li huwa responsabbli għal dan. Anzi kulħadd jgħid li mhux huwa responsabbli,” jgħid Baldacchino.

Ħtija tal-politiċi 
“Il-politiċi tagħna jiddefendu iktar żvilupp billi jgħidu li l-ġenituri qegħdin jipprovdu l-appartamenti għal uliedhom. Din il-ġustifikazzjoni ntużat fl-2006 meta kien hemm l-iskema ta’ razzjonalizazzjoni u medded ta’ art fil-kampanja ttieħdu biex jinbnew mijiet ta’ appartamenti minn żviluppatur wieħed.
“Din twassal għal mistoqsija oħra: jekk il-ġenituri qegħdin jipprovdu l-appartamenti lil uliedhom, l-eluf ta’ appartamenti tal-ispekulaturi lil min se jinbiegħu? Żgur mhux lill-barranin, għax mill-2009 kien hemm biss 300 bejgħ fejn kienu involuti l-barranin. Il-MEPA kkalkulat li l-ħtieġa annwali għad-djar ġodda hija madwar 2,000, iżda mill-2005 sal-2009 kienu approvati bejn 8,000 u 12,000 unit fis-sena,” tgħid Astrid Vella li tappella għal studju serju u tisħaq li din il-problema għandha tkun indirizzata.

“In-numru ta’ postijiet vojta huwa destinat li jikber iktar, hekk kif hemm permessi approvati mill-MEPA li għad irid isir il-bini tagħhom u hemm ukoll iktar proġetti kbar ippjanati. Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar temmen li l-kwistjoni ta’ żvilupp iktar milli meħtieġ għandha tkun indirizzata. Jekk iktar appartamenti se jkunu approvati, fuq liema bażi se niġġustifikaw it-telfien ta’ iktar kampanja?” ittemm tgħid Vella.

Baldacchino wkoll jitkellem dwar l-irwol tal-politiċi u ma jdurx mal-lewża.

“Ir-riżultat ta’ dan kollu huwa li din hija politika żbaljata tal-entitajiet governattivi u pubbliċi li kulħadd jara l-parti tiegħu biss u ma jimpurtahx minn entitajiet ohra. Anki f ‘deċiżjonijet żgħar jittieħdu deċiżjonijiet li jmorru kontra tfassil u deċiżjonijiet ta’ entitajet oħra.

“Dan jidher u jinħass bħal ngħidu aħna fil-ħarsien u mmaniġġjar tal-ilma, f’dak tat-trasport, f’dak tal-biodiversità, u ħafna u ħafna oħrajn. F’dan il-qasam huwa ġenerazzjoni ta’ xogħol artifiċjali, għas-spejjeż tar-riżorsi nazzjonali, biex taparsi jinħoloq ix-xogħol, xogħol li għandu ħafna prezzijiet u piżijiet moħbija, li qed tħallas għalihom is-soċjetà u l-ambjent b’mod ġenerali,” qal Baldacchino, li fakkar ukoll kif il-Kummissjoni Nazzjonali għall-Iżvilupp Sostenibbli għadha ma bdietx tiltaqa’.
“Opportunità li kien hemm u li għad hemm biex dawn il-fares jinqatgħu kienet li tibda taħdem il-Kummissjoni Nazzjonali għall-Iżvilupp Sostenibbli. Imma din tpoġġiet fuq l-ixkaffa tistenna l-mument meta jkun tard wisq u l-pajjiż jibqa’ jħallas minn imnieħru. Imbagħad forsi tirxoxta jew inkella titfassal oħra bħalha,” temm Baldacchino.

• Ara wkoll: