Hasbani follows up on pollution in northern Lebanon, responds to Bassil: Enough misleading public opinion

Deputy Prime Minister and caretaker Minister of Public Health, Ghassan Hasbani, received at his office in the ministry this Thursday MP Fadi Saad and the secretary of the Strong Republic parliamentary bloc, Fadi Karam, heading a delegation of environmental activists and members of the municipal councils of Tripoli, Koura and Batroun.

Discussions featured high on the pollution emerging in the area due to the garbage landfill and the cement factories ocross the region, as well as the resulting health impacts on citizens with the absence of suitable solutions.

After the meeting, Saad pointed out that "the issue of pollution � Asbestos (Amiante) contamination in particular -- and the resulting diseases, have become an urgent problem ravaging the North because of the direct and indirect damage to health, evidence being the steady increase in the number of people suffering from cancer, mainly lung cancer linked directly to Asbestos."

Saad announced that it was agreed to form a follow-up committee tasked to find solutions in partnership with the civil society and the concerned ministries.

Minister Hasbani, in turn, said "we sense an increasing need for solutions due to the towering rate of disease in some areas of Lebanon (...) and the North, in particular, specifically in Koura, Batroun and Tripoli. These are the effects of cement manufacturing spread across the area."

"We are raising the voice to reach all the concerned parties. We have agreed to set up a follow-up committee to pinpoint the problems and find solutions that eliminate risks in a scientific and organized manner, not in a random way causing further damage," he said.

The Minister of Health appealed to "the competent authorities (...) to address these issues that have a direct health impact on citizens residing in areas that suffer dreadful environmental conditions."

"We do not just want to provide treatment. We rather seek preemptive measures that could highlight the problems which cause diseases and prevent them from happening," he said, stressing that "the issue of waste in Tripoli has become an environmental disaster, while the plan approved by the Council of Ministers should be applied immediately to the treatment of waste."

"The new government shall shoulder its responsibilities and treat as top priority the issue of urgently addressing industrial impacts on the environment and the waste crisis," Hasbani stressed.

When asked about the position of caretaker Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil as to the Lebanese Forces ministers' performance, Hasbani said "Let us be pragmatic and realistic. We are all assuming our responsibilities in the tasks we are carrying on. The least a ministry can do is fulfill its duties, and we are fulfilling ours vis-a-vis the citizens and the ill."

"Enough misleading the public opinion, and enough intimidation," he said, noting that "there are environmental disasters affecting people, and their health impacts are immediate and must be addressed as soon as possible. The competent ministries must shoulder their responsibilities and start implementing the plan to put an end to the environmental massacres and disasters surrounding us."

Source: National News Agency