THEBELOVEDCOUNTRY

The per­ils of de­stroy­ing the

Finweek English Edition - - COLUMN - KADER AS­MAL

Green­peace has ex­plained that the frac­tur­ing of a sin­gle well re­quires a huge vol­ume of wa­ter – be­tween 9m and 29m litres. Chem­i­cals make up about 2% of the frac­tur­ing liq­uid and 15% to 80% of the fluid in­jected may be re­cov­ered – but the rest re­mains un­der­ground, where it’s a po­ten­tial source of con­tam­i­na­tion of wa­ter aquifers.

The fracking process brings a sig­nif­i­cant risk of con­tam­i­na­tion of SA’s valu­able wa­ter re­sources and can pol­lute drink­ing wa­ter. We know many parts of SA al­ready ex­pe­ri­ence wa­ter short­ages and the Depart­ment of Wa­ter Af­fairs is con­stantly ask­ing us to save wa­ter. The amount of wa­ter fracking re­quires will put fur­ther pres­sure on wa­ter sup­plies and could bring se­ri­ous prob­lems at many lev­els. That could be re­ally dam­ag­ing to an area such as the Ka­roo, which al­ready suffers from a lack of wa­ter.

The process of fracking isn’t reg­u­lated in SA and has never been used in this coun­try. But we’re lucky. We have – as part of our Con­sti­tu­tion – a Bill of Rights that con­tains, most un­usu­ally, a sec­tion on the en­vi­ron­ment, the so-called green rights, that states we all have a right to “an en­vi­ron­ment that is not harm­ful to [our] health or well-be­ing; and to have the en­vi­ron­ment pro­tected, for the ben­e­fit of present and fu­ture gen­er­a­tions, through rea­son­able leg­isla­tive and other mea­sures that: (i) Pre­vent pol­lu­tion and eco­log­i­cal degra­da­tion. (ii) Pro­mote con­ser­va­tion. (iii) Se­cure eco­log­i­cally sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment and use of nat­u­ral re­sources while pro­mot­ing jus­ti­fi­able eco­nomic and so­cial de­vel­op­ment.”

This is surely a wake-up call to us all to write to our MPs and to the rel­e­vant Gov­ern­ment de­part­ments to point out the per­ils of this pro­posed de­vel­op­ment and de­mand per­mis­sion to pro­ceed be re­fused. Or is fracking – along­side min­ing in sen­si­tive ar­eas, such as the vicin­ity of Ma­pun­gubwe and in other parts of Africa – one of the cruel conflicts brought about in the wake of the dis­cov­ery of oil. Is that the real Africa of to­day? What shall I tell my sis­ter-in-law?

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