OUTLOOK — By Salem Al Jawhary — Tens of crushers are spread across the length and width of Oman emitting plumes of poisonous clouds in their surroundings. This happens in Al Jafaneen in Muscat Governorate, Ibri Mountains and along the roads leading to Buraimi, Sharqiyah, Khasab, Musandam, Dhofar and Al Batinah. ‘All these projects inflict indescribable suffering upon the citizens’ as was stated by the representative of Musandam Governorate to Majlis Ash’shura in a meeting with the Minister of Regional Municipalities and Water Resources, on Monday.
Many of the permits issued by the authorities over the last four years did not take into consideration the environmental standards and specifications. They did it without a guilty conscience and without considering the dire consequences that might befall the residents of these areas in the coming years. It is as if the citizens’ lives are so trivial to be considered and so cheap to be valuated. To be honest and avoiding the trap of generalisation, few projects meet the required specification and play a part in the development process in far-flung areas.
Every morning giant machines discharge large amounts of hazardous smoke into the air, the wind takes with it all these poisonous substances, polluting vast swaths of inhabited areas. Inhaling polluted air aggravates the condition of the people suffering from asthma and put their lives at risk. Uncovered resources of drinking water like aflaj and ground wells are also prone to pollution thereby causing untold health problems to the people.
Many citizens and officials have voiced concern over this process of rock-crushing in Majlis Ash’shura and in all governorates, but unfortunately all these calls have gone unheeded and the work is still going on and the number of crushers are increasing day after day.
Looking at the matter from a different standpoint, thousands of tonnes of rocks are transferred to GGC countries where they extract the most precious types of marble and the revenues from these go to brokers from beyond the borders. Pieces of marble are exhibited as artifacts in international fairs and sold in the world markets in the name of the companies that cut and shape them.
Worse, the once prominent hills that stood as landmarks in different governorates have been badly disfigured. When you look at them from a distance you notice that the distorted mountains are in stark contrast with the ambience.
Those who are involved in the process of cutting the mountains not only grab what is upon the earth they also dig deep into the ground in search of the roots of rocks.
I think the matter needs to be reconsidered and reviewed. We need to adopt new standards and conditions for the operation of quarries and crushers so as to protect the environment and the people’s health. The referral of 196 violations to the Public Prosecution marks a good start.