According to the Environmental Impact Statement for the Mayan Train’s first three sections, the project could cause, in case of not respecting the environmental laws or not mitigating their effect, “unprecedented ecocide.”
MEXICO CITY (FONATUR) – Presented by Fonatur to Semarnat for evaluation, the Environmental Impact Statement -MIA refers to the fact that the demand studies did not have sufficient information. “Ridiculous, environmental money for the Mayan Train,” says Fonatur
Seven and a half million pesos that is the total amount to pay the 14 workers – plus equipment – who will be in charge of monitoring waste management, chasing away animals, transplanting thousands of trees and ensuring compliance with environmental mitigation measures over three years and 626 kilometers of the work on the first three sections of the Mayan Train.
If we add the 10 million that have been dedicated to studying the fauna passages and compare it with the 44 billion for which the works of these have been awarded, it gives 0.04% of the budget in environmental programs.
These data are in the Environmental Impact Statement (MIA) of the first three sections of the Mayan Train presented by the National Fund for Tourism Development (Fonatur) to the Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat), for evaluation on June 16.
The newspaper EL UNIVERSAL documented that the promoters twisted environmental legislation against their advisors’ analysis to begin the work without this requirement.
Possible ecocide if the laws are not complied with
In its almost 2,000 pages one can read about possible ecocide if the environmental requirements are not adhered to, that the demand studies for which 23 million pesos were paid did not have enough information, and that the most significant environmental impacts will occur during the preparation of the site and the works, as well as other contradictions in the official discourse.
The Mayan Train contemplates some 1,500 kilometers of track that will circulate through the Yucatan Peninsula. Divided into seven sections, four have been awarded, and President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has already inaugurated the works.
Environmental measurements of the Mayan Train
In its section “Strategies for the prevention and mitigation of environmental impacts of the Mayan Train,” the MIA contains a series of measures and establishes a budget for them.
In total, to supervise the works, restore the soils, replant thousands of trees, keep animals away from the tracks, and manage waste over three years. Over 626 kilometers, there are plans for 7.5 million pesos and 14 people. “It is a ridiculous proposal: with 14 people and 7 million pesos.
“The project will cost tens of billions of pesos, and the environmental damages are expected to be satisfied with ridiculous amounts. That’s not how things are done,” argues Luis Fueyo, an environmental expert from UNAM with experience in the public sector.
Daniel Basurto, president of the Mexican Academy of Environmental Impact, has a similar opinion: “It seems like the budget for a minor project has no environmental relevance. It makes it impossible to comply with a monitoring program,” he says. The project is expected to affect 315 different animal species, of which seven are endemic, and 51 are protected. Furthermore, it is estimated that there are at least 7,700 mammals, birds, fish, and reptiles.
In the worst-case scenario, “the fauna will be captured for self-consumption or commercialization”. According to data from another section of the MIA, the Mayan Train will have, in its preparation and construction phase, 112 adverse impacts: “During these stages, the most aggressive activities of the entire project will occur,” it reads. In March, Semarnat authorized an exemption from the MIA under the title Rehabilitation and Maintenance of Railway Track (…) of 726.22 km of track on 4,205.80 hectares. It can be assumed that all those negative impacts contemplated would be occurring in the works already underway, which the Executive inaugurated last June 1.
The rehabilitation does not exempt from an evaluation of the impacts. The roads will be new. The old rails will have to be moved, dams built, material hauled, rights of the way extended, access roads opened, and vegetation removed, which fulfills an essential ecological function.
Perhaps an excellent summary of the Tren Maya’s significant risks can be found within the Environmental Impact Statement itself, which says, “It is critical to comply with the laws and restore the impact that the Tren Maya will cause since the area is strongly threatened and deteriorated”.
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