Salman Abbas, Green Line Association for environmental conservation
I was outraged when I read the article titled “ Feud rages over treeless capital ” by Warren Singh-Bartlett. I really found difficulty in believing what Miss Rola Ajouz was saying. She told the Daily Star reporter that she “feels terrible” as she “can’t believe [that she] gave them credibility by appearing with them.” She was referring in this statement to the group representing The League for Green Spaces in one of the TV shows. She must have forgotten that those people were representing the 63 major environmental groups in Beirut . There was consensus among these environmental groups that there is a great need to change the Hippodrome and the former UNRWA property in Verdun into green parks. The issue is now not whether we want to make the Hippdrome a green park and she refuses.
The difference is much deeper. It is a difference in the strategic vision for the environmental future of the city and its inhabitants. She finds the environmental solution for the suffocating city is as she exactly stated in her interview: “The people of Verdun don’t need a public garden. It’s not nice to say but they can afford to travel a bit if they want greenery”. I cannot believe that a responsible person can give a statement like this. It is a new invention in dealing with environmental problems. While we believe that a good environment is a strategic goal for any country, she finds it dispensable. We work for making our capital more acceptable for living, while she sees that those who do not like it as it is, can take a break.
She forgets that not all Verdun residents are that rich, and that a green area is not made only for them. Even if all the Lebanese were rich, they still have the right to enjoy clean air in their own city. We are not looking for a solution for the rich Verdun people, we have a more general concern. Other people have the right to enjoy a green park.
This difference in views stems from the fact that each of the environmental groups, and Miss Ajouz represent different social class in Lebanon . We see that a park can help in decreasing the casteism among the Lebanese, by making them meet in a one free place. Especially t that private beaches, expensive restaurants, and luxurious concerts, among other issues, have drawn a distinct line between the social classes in Lebanon . We represent the majority of the Lebanese who have the right to enjoy a better environment in their own city, while she represents a minority who is rich enough to enjoy greenery outside the country. People with great visions can make their countries great. I will not comment on the rest of what she said because I feel we are opposite and have different views and approaches.