About 130 investors from Bahariya Oasis protested Saturday in front of the cabinet headquarters to object to the minister of irrigation’s decision to remove 23 groundwater wells from the oasis. The investors say the plan will cost them LE23 million.
Ali Mohamed Mahmoud, head of the Oasis Investors Society, said that most settlement in the area is unofficial, which makes it difficult to obtain licenses from the Ministry of Irrigation.
Mahmoud contended that the investors are not in violation of the law, because, he says, they bought land according to Law 143/1981, which lays out parameters for construction on desert lands. He added that the investors’ objective is to legalize their position by meeting stipulations set by the prime minister, including the cultivation of a minimum of 13,000 acres of desert land.
Mahmoud said that investors dug wells for irrigation without obtaining ministry permission because the ministry requires proof of legal ownership before approving well construction. He said that the number of groundwater wells in Bahariya Oasis stands at 800, serving 120,000 acres of lands. According to Mahmoud, 140 investors submitted requests to the cabinet to legalize their ownership, and expressed readiness to pay the authorities whatever they wanted in return.
Meanwhile, Tayseer Abdel Fattah, president of Bahariya Oasis City announced that he had removed 23 wells and said that the action was based on a security study submitted by 6th of October Governorate. Abdel Fattah said the wells are not licensed, and threaten the city’s reserve of groundwater.
"Those investors infringe on state lands and have not legalized their positions until now. The governor of the 6th of October, Fathy Saad issued his directives to immediately halt the digging operations, remove the violations, and confiscate the digging tools," Abdel Fattah said.
Translated from the Arabic Edition.