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Beni Oukil Gravel Quarries, Morocco


Description:

Ever since the gravel and sand quarry emerged on the mountainside (2014), a few hundred meters away from their homes and agricultural lands, the inhabitants on Beni Oukil, at the foothill of Jbel Dchira, have been in the midst of an ecological struggle [1].

  The mountain was previously owned by the State and has significant historical and cultural value. It was then sold, in rather fraudulent circumstances, for 20 million Dirhams and the new ownership was registered using forged documents [2].

  The Oriental region of Morocco is the second most important when it comes to volume extracted from quarries, with 14% of national production. Mainly of sand and gravel, these quarries present cumbersome consequences on the environment [3].

  In addition to the vague legal background of the issue, villagers living close to the project assert that the quarrying operation does not respect legislation pertaining to the regulation of quarrying activities and environmental impact assessment (EIA) [1]. In fact, the “dahir” regulating quarrying that was issued in 1914 stipulates that quarries should operate at a minimal distance from residential areas [4].

  But the Economic, Social and Environmental Council considers this “dahir” obsolete and the sector has been regulated by a memo issued by the Prime Minister in 2010, which opened the door for disorderly proliferation of quarries [2]. The Beni Oukil quarry, for example, is at less than 60 m from homes and arable land. The law 12.03 pertaining to EIAs, forces investors to conduct a public consultation with the local population which was not done according to activists [5].

  Dust and dynamite explosions have been some of the main public health issues related to these quarries. Moreover, the potential drying of the water table could have dire consequences on the nearby agricultural and ranching activities. In addition to that, open-air quarrying radically alters the landscape. The Beni Oukil mountains are being mined without proper restauration.

  Activists from Beni Oukil have tried getting their message across in many ways. Sit-ins, road blockades and even a stall occupied by associations from the Oriental region at the COP22 were used to warn about the environmental dangers in the region [6].

  On February 15, 2017 Mohammad Akkad and 15 other activists were violently arrested after the police department criminalized all actions that go against the implementation of this project. After condemnations by ATTAC Maroc and The Moroccan Association for Human Rights and other public campaigns, the defendants were cleared of all charges on February 27 by the Oujda court. [7][8][9]

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Beni Oukil Gravel Quarries, Morocco
Country:Morocco
State or province:Nador
Location of conflict:Beni Oukil
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Building materials extraction (quarries, sand, gravel)
Specific commodities:Sand, gravel

Project Details and Actors

Project details

A 20 ha gravel and sand quarry close to the village of Beni Oukil. Managed by Société Gypse Nord on privately owned land. It is listed by the ministry of equipment and transport as temporary (Although in service since 2014) and one of the few quarries on the list without a declared yearly extraction volume.

Project area:20
Level of Investment:Unkown
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:Unknown
Start of the conflict:2014
Company names or state enterprises:Société Gypse Nord from Morocco
Relevant government actors:Conseil Économique Social er Environnemental (CESE)
Ministère de l'Équipement et du Tranport
Ministère de l'Energie, des Mines, de l'Eau et de l'Environnement
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:ATTAC Maroc: http://attacmaroc.org/fr/
Association Maroccaine des droits humains: https://www.facebook.com/pg/AMDH.org.ma/about/?ref=page_internal

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Social movements
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches

Impacts

Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil erosion
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Desertification/Drought, Food insecurity (crop damage), Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Loss of livelihood, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights, Increase in violence and crime

Outcome

Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
Criminalization of activists
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Repression
Violent targeting of activists
Development of alternatives:As far as the villagers are concerned, they want the quarry to stop all its activities and that the site is rehabilitated.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The quarry has not stopped any of its activities and the inhabitants of Beni Oukil are still fighting to stop it.

Sources & Materials

Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

[5] - Loi n° 12-03 relative aux études d'impact sur l'environnement
https://rabat.eregulations.org/media/Loi_n_12-03.pdf

[4] - Dahir 9 joumada II 1332 (5 Mai 1914) réglementant l'exploitation des carrières (B.O. 19 juin 1914)
http://www.eauxetforets.gov.ma/files/editor_upload/file/upload_pdf/userfiles/image/PDFs/legislation_forestiere/Dahircarrieres.pdf

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[2] - ORIENTAL : LES RIVERAINS DÉCLARENT LA GUERRE AUX CARRIÈRES !
http://www.leseco.ma/48570

[3] - EXPLOITATION DES CARRIÈRES DANS L'ORIENTAL : COLÈRE, POUSSIÈRE ET DYNAMITE
http://www.leseco.ma/tous-les-reportages/34494-exploitation-des-carrieres-dans-l-oriental-colere-poussiere-et-dynamite.html

[6] - Des militants écologistes dénoncent "le pillage du sable à des fins immobilières" dans l'Est du Maroc
http://www.huffpostmaghreb.com/2016/11/15/justice-climatique-cop22_n_12972824.html

[1] - A Beni Oukil, le combat des villageois contre une carrière de gravier
http://telquel.ma/2017/03/01/militants-ecologistes-poursuivis-opposition-carriere-gravier-oujda_1537183

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

[9] - The Free Akkad Public Campaign
https://www.facebook.com/AkkadFree/

Sit-in against the quarry in Isly
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWmqM4Jj6fY

[8] - Communiqué from ATTAC 2
http://attacmaroc.org/fr/2017/03/18/imider-beni-oukil-stop-au-harcelement-des-militants-ecologistes-au-maroc/?lang=fr

[7] - Communiqué from ATTAC 1
http://attacmaroc.org/fr/2017/02/21/lamdh-et-attac-cadtm-maroc-nous-denoncons-larrestation-de-defenseurs-de-lenvironnement-a-bni-oukil-opposes-au-projet-de-carriere-du-mont-dchira/

Interview with Salaheddine Lemaizi from ATTAC Maroc
https://www.yabiladi.com/articles/details/51501/253381/374068/imider-oukil-l-accaparement-terres-croisee.html?utm_source=newsletter_actu&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter_actus_html

Other documents

Quarries List in Morocco
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/liste_des_carrieres.pdf

Mohammed Akkad Source: Attac
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/Morocco_Beni_Oukil.png

Imider/ Beni Oukil Source: Attac. Stop au harcèlement des militants écologistes au Maroc.
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/Morocco_imider-beni-oukil.jpg

Meta information

Contributor:Christophe Maroun - ICTA
Last update08/05/2017

Images

 

Mohammed Akkad

Source: Attac

Imider/ Beni Oukil

Source: Attac. Stop au harcèlement des militants écologistes au Maroc.