Reclamation 'costs Bahrain millions'
Manama, March 7, 2009
Bahrain has missed out millions of dinars that could have been used to support the country's failing fishing industry, pay allowances to poor families and help solve a government housing shortage, according to an MP.
The country has effectively given away millions of tonnes of sand for free to developers working on huge land reclamation projects, Jawad Fairooz told the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication.
He said a 2007 parliamentary study estimated two projects alone, Durrat Al Bahrain and Diyar Al Muharraq, used dredged sand worth a total of BD522 million ($1379 million) in the market.
That is because developers were allowed to freely dredge sand from the seabed and use it to reclaim land, Fairooz told the GDN.
The study was carried out by parliament's public utilities and environment affairs committee, but does not include figures for last year.
Fairooz, who is chairman of the committee, said it was time companies started paying for the sand they dredged from the seabed - particularly since land reclamation and dredging have been blamed for causing severe damage to the marine environment, bringing the fishing industry to its knees in the process.
He also accused developers of profiteering, by selling sand they dredge from the seabed for free in the local market.
Parliament has already approved the proposal, which was subsequently backed by the government. However, MPs are still waiting for Fairooz's committee to complete studies that would determine a fair price for the sand.
He said the committee could recommend that only certain parts of the seabed be used for sand dredging, instead of the current free-for-all in which companies dredge wherever they want.
The committee is now working with the Public Commission for the Protection of Marine Resources, Environment and Wildlife to determine which areas are least likely to be affected by dredging.-TradeArabia News Service