June 29, 2013
BEIRUT: The cornerstone for a controversial dam in Batroun, north Lebanon will be laid Sunday, with the Energy Ministry promising that the project will meet the water needs of more than 40,000 residents. A statement by the ministry, issued Friday, said the Balaa dam project represents “the first large-scale water project” in the area. It is expected to create a fixed reservoir of around 1.2 million cubic meters of water with an additional storage capacity of up to 2.1 million cubic meters.

The statement said the dam would be approximately 35 meters tall at its highest point, and 400 meters long.

The project previously faced strong opposition from local politicians, who are at odds politically with caretaker Energy Minister Gebran Bassil.

They objected to his signing a memorandum of cooperation with Iran last year, which would have secured $40 million to fund the dam project. It is unclear what happened to this money.

A group of March 14 officials met in Batroun Friday and issued a statement slamming Bassil for what they said was a failed attempt to bring in an Iranian company to build the dam and sideline Moawad-Edde, whose winning bid was less than $34 million.

“Aren’t you the one who delayed the launch of the project for two years?” the officials asked Bassil.

The statement said Moawad-Edde would carry out the project, after he won the tender in 2011. The order to begin the project was given last year, the ministry said, after expropriation payments were completed.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on June 29, 2013, on page 3.

Read more: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Local-News/2013/Jun-29/221976-north-lebanon-dam-project-finally-set-to-begin.ashx#ixzz2XvK79Yfi
(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News :: http://www.dailystar.com.lb)