By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
Negros Occidental Vice Governor Jeffrey Ferrer is proposing a two-year moratorium on quarrying activities in the province.
Ferrer made the proposal after flash floods hit the province’s northern areas earlier this month.
The vice governor said the stoppage will be made after the provincial government’s field inspection and review of all the quarries.
If it is found out that quarries are the major cause of the floodings in the lowland, Ferrer said he will push for the suspension of all quarry operations in the province for two years.
He added that he and Board Member Andrew Montelibano of the third district, chairman of the Committee on Environment of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, will lead an inspection team of the provincial government.
Last Friday, January 15, the Office of Civil Defense led by regional director Jose Roberto Nuñez conducted an aerial inspection of the waterways and rivers in the third district.
Montelibano said that theirs will be both aerial and ground inspections.
“There are reports that there are illegal quarries. They will be the target of our inspection,” he said.
He also said he received a report that a bridge in Manapla town was damaged because of the erosion caused by quarrying near the bridge.
“Those with permits will be made to strictly comply with government regulations,” he added.
Montelibano plans to start the inspection in two weeks after talking with the personnel of the Provincial Environment Management Office (PEMO) on the technical aspects of the inspection.
There are currently a thousand pending applications for quarry permits at PEMO, he said.
“I think there is a need to balance the development of our infrastructures and the protection of our river system,” he said, adding, “What will happen is that we build something but we destroy something too.”/DGB, WDJ