Mepa ‘gravely embarrasses’ Gozo diocese – AD
Monday, June 25, 2007

Alternattiva Demokratika chairman Harry Vassallo yesterday said that the issue of a permit for the development of a garigue area containing a perched aquifer overlooking Ramla l-Hamra has created an unnecessary embarrassment for the Diocese of Gozo.

“After several recommendations to refuse on valid grounds were ignored, the permit has been issued, placing Church authorities on the spot,” Dr Vassallo said when addressing a press conference in Nadur. “The land in question belongs to the Joint Office and the applicant is a Gozitan parish.”

“The construction of this new cemetery will make Nadur top the list of villages endowed with outsize cemeteries in relation to their resident populations,” Dr Vassallo said. “Not only will it accommodate far more burials than those required by Nadur residents, but it will also maintain and operate its present cemetery regardless of all excuses that the present cemetery could not be extended because of its proximity to residences.”

“An alternative site should be sought for several reasons. The concerns of farmers have not been put at rest with assurances that the graves will be hermetically sealed and waterproofed,” Dr Vassallo said. “Farmers’ concerns would have been satisfied were it not for the refusal by the Water Services Corporation (WSC) to approve an alternative site for the cemetery at Ta’ Xhajma for fear of borehole contamination. If the WSC has cause for serious concern regarding water contamination, so do the farmers.”

“Despite efforts by the parish to persuade residents to apply for graves, less than half of the proposed graves have been applied for,” Dr Vassallo said. “Regardless of this, the applicants still describe the outsize cemetery as a necessity while proposing to sell the graves to residents of other parishes,” Dr Vassallo added.

Dr Vassallo said. “The absence of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is clearly in contrast with the Local Pan requirements affecting the Addolorata Cemetery. While Mepa required an EIA for the extension of the Addolorata Cemetery, for some inexplicable reason it didn’t for the pristine area of the Ramla l-Hamra belvedere. Instead, it accepted a hydrological study carried out by a geologist rather than a hydrologist. It was as though somebody went to confession to a sacristan instead of a priest,” Dr Vassallo said.

“The Nadur parish, the Diocese of Gozo and the Joint Office are still in time to ensure that no such environmental, social and economic harm takes place,” Dr Vassallo said. Alternattiva Demokratika – The Green Party is urging that Gozo Bishop Mgr Mario Grech need not only confine himself to emphasising “that the project should be carried out according to law,” but that justice prevails. AD will pursue the matter by all available means in the planning process and beyond.

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25 Jun 2007 by