BEIRUT: The proposed plan for the comprehensive treatment of pollution that has hit the upper Litani basin requires financial support from the government and international donors, ministers said during a seminar organized by the United Nations Development Program Thursday.

The seminar discussed the adoption of a plan that would utilize the best methods to combat pollution in the Litani River.

Environment Minister Nazim Khoury said LL342.5 billion was required to start the project in order to begin benefiting from one of the country’s biggest natural resources.

The Litani River, which falls entirely within Lebanon and empties in the Mediterranean Sea, has seen a number of projects proposed and implemented over the past six decades.

The Litani River Authority, an independent agency, was established in 1954 to oversee the development of the Litani basin.

Increasing pollution has endangered the river’s resources following the country’s 15-year Civil War.

“This plan has been made with the agreement of all sides [ministries] involved in the project. What remains now is to get the blessing for the plan by ensuring it is financed either by the Cabinet, Parliament or by donors,” Khoury said.

Interior Minister Marwan Charbel said that municipalities throughout the country could also help in the project to combat pollution in the Litani River if they were given the financial assets they were entitled to.

“There is LL1.3 billion in funds at the Telecommunications Ministry allocated for municipalities. We can allocate LL400 million from those funds to building dams,” Charbel said.

Speaking on behalf of Speaker Nabih Berri, Health Minister Ali Hasan Khalil said Lebanon should preserve its water resources because wars in the future would be fought over access to water.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on February 22, 2013, on page 4.

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