By Hana Namrouqa – Oct 15,2017

AMMAN — Residents of Merad Municipality in Jerash Governorate on Sunday urged the government to consider an alternative location for a solid waste transfer and segregation plant scheduled to be built in the area.

The residents said that the waste plant will harm Merad Municipality’s tourism, environment and economy, by deterring tourists and investors since they described the area as “the gate to Jerash”, located 48 kilometres north of Amman.

During a press conference held at the Jordan Agricultural Engineers Association, representatives of Merad local community said they collected 500 signatures of citizens who oppose the location of the project.

Hala Murad, president of Dibeen Association for Environmental Development, said that the project will be built in Merad without consulting local residents.

“Let me be very clear about one thing, the residents of Merad don’t oppose the project itself; on the contrary, they are in favour of uplifting the waste services in the north. What they oppose is the location of the waste plant,” Murad told reporters during the presser.

Murad claimed that around 20 centennial trees of deciduous oaks were uprooted in the process of preparing the land for construction of the plant, which will be located in the heart of a forest area.

“The project was approved in April last year and preparation for construction recently started. The local community was not present when the location was chosen, nor were they informed about the results of the project’s environmental impact assessment,” Murad said.

She noted that the public sector project could be relocated to an area off the eastern part of Jerash, where there is no green land, businesses or residential areas.

Wajdi Rawashdeh, a lawyer and resident of Merad, said that the location of the plant is only 500 metres away from the main street, a forest, a residential area and a tourist area.

“We demand to be informed with the results of the environmental impact assessment study,” Rawashdeh stressed.

The lawyer said that the local community is in favour of a plant, but that it opposes the chosen location.

“If the project continues on the current location, it will be a disaster for the environment and the socioeconomic development of Merad,” Rawashdeh warned.

Meanwhile, President of the Jordan Agricultural Engineers Association Mahmoud Abu Ghneimeh, said that since forest lands are receding, the country cannot afford to lose any more of its trees.

“Any development project that seeks the common good of the people is welcomed, but not when it affects the environment nor when there are many options to explore,” Abu Ghneimeh said at the presser.

Despite attempts made by The Jordan Times, the Greater Jerash Municipality officials were not available for comment on Sunday.