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River Nile under threat
Published in The Egyptian Gazette on 09 - 11 - 2011

CAIRO – Illegal building activities on the banks of the River Nile threaten Egypt, as over 85 per cent of the country's water is used for irrigation. Members of the previous regime built palaces, villas and private piers that pollute the Nile, citizens complain.
The regime's officials abused their governmental posts in bending the law. For example, the then minister of culture built a villa on the Nile in el-Bekbashi, Giza Governorate.
Encroaching attempts affect the water quality and quantity in the main river and the Rosetta and Damietta branches.
In the Upper Egyptian Governorate of Minya, the River Nile Protection Agency, part of the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation, is monitoring the disastrous effects. Illegal activities didn't stop when the regime was toppled.
“Since the January 25 revolution, there are many encroachment activities in Minya Governorate; about 1,600 illegal buildings were constructed. In addition, two feddans [acres] were covered with sand, which gave the culprits an excuse to build houses on them,” stated the River Nile Protection Agency in a recent report.
Local citizens accuse the agency of ignoring the State's interests. “The officials' negligence and laziness harm the Nile, which is the main source of irrigation water,” Mohamed el-Taweel, a citizen, told the Arabic-language Al-Wafd newspaper.
“Judge Farouq Mohamed Ali and his two sons damaged State-owned river banks by building three villas along the Nile in Abou Filou district in Minya,” el-Taweel said.
Official engineers still apply the same corrupt methods as before the January 25 revolution. “After completing a building, the engineers used to file a legal complaint against the violators. But the security forces couldn't demolish such an unlicensed building because there were people inside,” el-Taweel added.
Another citizen accused remnants of the toppled regime of maintaining their corrupt practices. “Ahmed Senousi, a member of the former regime, has violated the Egyptian law. He has built a beach cabin on the Nile in Damarees village in Minya,” said Sherif el-Omdah, a citizen.
The ancient Egyptians paid particular attention to keeping the Nile clean. Ever since, the Egyptians have tried to protect the Nile water from pollution; they know it is their life source.
Nowadays, people in the Upper Egyptian Governorate of Beni Sueif struggle to prevent such violations, as they threaten their life.
“Citizens have clashed with criminals, who took possession of river banks,” Ahmed Selim Abdel-Baqi, a board member of the ‘Youth Loves Egypt' association, which voluntarily assumes the responsibility of protecting the Nile.
“The association organised a demonstration to denounce encroachment incidents. It also filed a legal complaint against violators,” Abdel-Baqi said.
For their part, municipal councils state that the absence of policing has encouraged criminal elements to commit illegal acts. On January 28, the police force withdrew from Egypt's streets, and since Mubarak and his regime were toppled, security has only been partly restored.
“In the absence of the police, encroachment attempts have increased,” said Engineer Salah Abdel-Haleem, the head of el-Wasta City's council, a town in Beni Sueif. “There are about 75 encroachment cases in el-Wasta alone.”

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