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Chan'ad Bahraini

(Scomberomorous maculatus Bahrainius)

Note: This page has moved to a new address. Please click on the following URL to get there: http://chanad.weblogs.us/index.php?s=Don't cut our palms. Sorry for the trouble.

Don't cut our palms

Thursday, December 23, 2004

You might remember a while ago I wrote about the historic 'Ain Umm as Sujoor freshwater spring and the need to protect it. You might even recall when I wrote about the need to protect the greenbelt of palms that runs across the northern coast of the island. Well its obvious that the government doesn't read (or agree with) my blog. According to Sayed Alawi Sharaf, a member of the Northern Municipal Council, plans are being made for a highway to be built right on top of the ancient well and cutting through the greenbelt.

The GDN reported yesterday:

Families will protest tomorrow against plans for a highway they say would scythe through the villages of Diraz and Barbar.

They are ready to stand in front of the bulldozers to protect their homes, says local councillor Sayed Alawi Sharaf.

The residents want plans for the road to the new Northern Town to go back to the drawing board.

They have submitted a petition to the Northern Municipal Council, rejecting any road that would cut through the villages. (Continued)

So I went to the protest today to see what exactly the fuss is all about. They were handing out plans of the proposed road, which you can see below (click image to enlarge, jpg 746KB):

The original map is in black and white, but I added colour to make things easier to see. Um as Sujoor is circled in blue, there is an intermediate school shown in green, and the proposed new highway is marked in red. You can see that the planned highway will be right next to the school which is another serious problem. Asides from this the people were obviously concerned about having a highway going right through their villages, creating pollution, noise and generally upsetting the tranquility of the residential area. It was claimed that about 70 homes will have to be demolished in the process, for which the owners will only be compensated with 70% of the value in cash. A proposed alternative to cash compensation is the promise of a home in the new Northern City (for which the highway is being planned)... however no one is really pleased by this idea because construction on the Northern City has not even started, so currently its just a piece of the sea. And all those who own land on the route of the proposed highway are currentlynot being issued construction permissions to build homes from the ministry.

Apparently, there is an alternative route for the highway, but that has been shelved since it passes by land and homes owned by some rich and influential folks... typical. But more than the highway itself, I'm really uncomfortable with the proposed Northern City, and why we have to keep on reclaiming land on the northern shore. There's lots of empty land down south that can be developed, but we keep building new cities in the sea. I guess in the end it comes to back to those rich and influential folks who make sure none of their interests are affected.

Anyways, it was good to see people expressing their views freely at the protest. And I also bumped into an old friend who made an appearance in disguise:

And as usual, let me leave you with some photos of a few aspiring activists:

The following article was printed in the GDN on 22-Dec-04:

Highway protest


FAMILIES will protest tomorrow against plans for a highway they say would scythe through the villages of Diraz and Barbar.

They are ready to stand in front of the bulldozers to protect their homes, says local councillor Sayed Alawi Sharaf.

The residents want plans for the road to the new Northern Town to go back to the drawing board.

They have submitted a petition to the Northern Municipal Council, rejecting any road that would cut through the villages.

The petition has been submitted through their councillor Sayed Alawi Sharaf, who has called for the demonstration.

Earlier this year, council chairman Sayed Majeed Al Sayed dismissed claims that a road would cut through both villages.

He said it was one of the proposed new roads, but no decision had yet been reached.

Mr Al Sayed said then that the council would refuse it right away, without the residents even asking.

Mr Sharaf, who is the council's services and public utilities committee chairman, told the GDN yesterday that the demonstration was a clear warning to the government if it tried to go ahead with the plans.

"Residents will stand in front of bulldozers, if that means a halt to the construction of the new road," he said.

"I have seen the plans and the road will cut through houses and gardens and will divide the villages into halves."

Mr Sharaf urged residents to gather at Saar Roundabout, off Budaiya Highway at 3.30pm tomorrow.

"Every resident should be present there, because without your presence, these plans may go ahead," he said.

Mr Sharaf said residents would find it hard to find alternatives if their homes were demolished to make way for the road.

"Most have just built new houses after taking bank loans and tearing down their houses means paying money to the bank for a house which does not exist," he said.

"Even if the government compensates them, they will not include interest, which means thousands of dinars will still be paid by the owners."

The new BD1 billion town in the Abu Sobh Coastline area, will provide homes for 50,000 Bahraini families.

The 1,500 hectare town will include 30,000 homes for more than 150,000 people.


Update (26-Dec-04): The GDN reported yesterday:

A planned highway leading to the new BD1 billion Northern Town does not cut through Ain Um Al Sajour, an historical site listed in the archaeological sites owned and protected by the Archaeology Directorate said Information Ministry Under-Secretary Mahmood Al Mahmood. He said the ministry has not been informed of any project that may disturb the site.

Well that's good to hear. The question then is why would Northern Municipality councillor Sayed Alawi Sharaf claim that the road is being planned to go over Um as Sujoor? And where did he get the map (shown above) from?

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7 Responses to 'Don't cut our palms'

Blogger Abdusalaam says:

Apparently, Bahrainis have got a hang of this protest thing. Keep that, 'I'm not gonna take sh*t' spirit burning.

(I feel so proud of you guys I've got tears in my eyes. *sob, sob*)    

Blogger Scorpio says:

How many more roads does Bahrain need? Rather than building all these new flyovers, I've got a better idea: tarmac over the entire country in one go. It'll be a lot quicker and cheaper.

I hear these protesters had to turn the whole thing into a religious issue. Listen guys you've got a much better chance if you stay focussed on the road building. It'd also be good if some of these villagers took a bit more care of their own environment and cleared up some of the rubbish strewn over their palm groves, cemetaries and other public places.    

Blogger Chanad says:

Abdu: Glad to know my posts bring tears to your eyes. btw, your post about the GCC summit was hilarious!

Scorpio: I'm not sure where you heard that they turned it into a religious issue. I didn't see anything like that at the protest. But I agree that they could do a better job of maintaining their sites and cemeteries.    

Blogger Angelo Embuldeniya (Strav) says:
12/24/2004 07:25:00 pm

Nice coverage chanad, keep it up!

And... in other green developments around Bahrain:
a Palm Tree Planting Day was sponsored by Alba & supported by EFS (Environmental Friends Society under a joint effort with BahrainMobileS.com of which i was a member of & was held today morning at the Zallaq Beach.

About 500 plus trees were planted which lasted about 3 hours and having started at 9am.... we were all happily exhaustd by a little after noon. I'll be sending chanad the pics taken of this green event to post on his blog as i don't get time to update mine.... :-)

anyone else is most free to take it off him and use it wherever u wanna'

BTW: i just wanted to let everyone know that there will be another major green event hosted in Bahrain under the patronage of the President of the National Commission for Wildlife, Marine Resources & Enviroment, organized by the EFS and supported by BahainMobileS.com on the 30th of December titled: 3rd Child & Enviornment Day which will be held in East Riffa. .....

More info on that will come out in the GDN & arabic newspapers over the upcoming days.

BTW. chanad or anyone else reading his blog- are u interested in building up an online gallery reflecting green issues in Bahrain? Seems like you're a great mobile photographer & if you are interested in something like that, pls do email me :)


Blogger Scorpio says:
12/24/2004 09:30:00 pm

That's an interesting idea Strav. Have Greenpeace or Friends of the Earth explored the possibility of a Bahrain branch? Considering that Amnesty International's got a branch here it wouldn't be too difficult, and it'd be very useful to utilise these road protests in a broader context to raise a more general appreciation for the environment.    

Anonymous Anonymous says:
12/25/2004 03:27:00 am

Thanks so much for highlighting the plight of Bahrain's environment.We need much more good people like you in order to save the remaining greenery in the country from destruction. Thank you once again and keep it up!    

Blogger Chanad says:
12/25/2004 05:12:00 am

Strav, good on you for actually DOING something for the earth. Next time maybe you could post something on BahrainBlogs.com in advance so that the rest of us can show up in force. Oh and email me those pics, I'll be happy to post them for you.

Anon: Thanks for the support :)    

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