Senate committee hears testimony on impact of projects in various towns
By The Star Staff
The Senate Committee on Human Rights and Labor Affairs, chaired by Sen. Ana Irma Rivera Lassén, held a public hearing Wednesday based on Senate Resolution 209 to investigate the environmental impact on natural resources of projects in various municipalities.
“In this hearing, I believe that we are seeing precisely the community awareness that is being raised in terms of the demand that they are making to the government to take into consideration the reliability of life itself in Puerto Rico, which includes respect and defense of natural resources, respect for agricultural lands, access to beaches and defense of everything that has to do with the sustainability of our life in Puerto Rico,” Rivera Lassén said. “Without that we have no future.”
Kathia Avilés Vázquez, of the El Josco Bravo Archaeological Project, said that during Hurricane Fiona, Highway 861 in the Municipality of Toa Alta, which is under the jurisdiction of the Highways and Transportation Authority (ACT by its Spanish initials), suffered landslides that keep the road closed.
“The municipality and subcontracted companies, without consulting the citizens and without having made a prior notification, entered the lands of the Bucarabones Valley with machinery and heavy equipment, causing damage to the land and crops,” the deponent said.
Avilés Vázquez added that she opposes the construction of a road that would cross the Bucarabones Valley diagonally.
She also asked the ACT and the Municipality of Toa Alta to repair the damage caused by heavy machinery removing topsoil, knocking down trees and impacting the basin of several streams and the Bucarabones River itself. The senator asked what the food sustainability of cultivating the entire valley would be. The deponent replied that around 250,000 people from several municipalities could have food security with the efficient production of the valley.
In response to questions from the senator, Avilés Vázquez said the mayor continues to defend the need for the alternative route. However, Samuel Acosta of the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources said that “before the consideration of the department there are no permits requested, neither in consideration nor approved for the Bucarabones area.”
Meanwhile, Carmen Rosado, participating as a witness representing Cayey Para el Mundo, said “I am motivated by my opposition and that of hundreds of my neighbors to the construction of the connector/exit of Highway 52 that the Municipality of Cayey insists on imposing against the will and well-being of the population of Barrio Las Vegas.”
She said it is “completely false that we need this connector to alleviate traffic congestion on PR-1 and PR-743.”
“I live next to 743 and the argument of the municipality that alleges that there are problems accessing Highway 52 in our rural neighborhood is false,” Rosado said.