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5 Sep 2020

Middle East Eye

World Bank cancels loan for Lebanon's controversial Bisri dam project

Cancellation is a victory for activists who have for years fought against the project, denouncing its environmental impact.

The dam project had also been surrounded by allegations of corruption. Gebran Bassil, the son-in-law of President Michel Aoun and former energy minister, pushed plans for the construction of some 14 dams, including the Bisri dam, which had been approved by the government in 2012.

Critics also disputed assurances from the government and the World Bank that the dam, to be built on a seismic fault line, and its reservoir would not increase the risk of earthquakes.

For years, campaigners had called for the project to be scrapped completely, for the site to be turned into a nature reserve and for the already allocated loan funds to be diverted to other projects. The country is currently battling a devastating economic crisis, a surge in coronavirus cases and the destruction of around a third of Beirut last month in the largest non-nuclear explosion in history.