Activists alert about negative environmental impacts of the Maya Train in the Yucatan Peninsula

Phoyo: (Yucatán a la mano)

Mérida, Yucatán, (April 12, 2021).- Several environmental organizations, specialists, and activists united in the Articulation Yucatán Collective sent a letter to federal and state authorities pointing out the negative impacts of the Maya Train project on the Yucatán aquifer and, in particular, in the city of Mérida.

The group clearly explains in the letter its concern about the deficiency in the analysis of the social and environmental impacts that the Maya Train will bring to the Yucatan peninsula.

They warn about the risk of damaging the karst geohydrological systems of the peninsula run, characterized by their fragility and by the existence of an underground aquifer, with serious problems of overexploitation and contamination in the most populated metropolitan area of ​​the region, which includes the municipalities of Mérida, Umán, Kanasín, and Conkal, with more than 1 million inhabitants, according to data from the 2020 Planning and Housing Census of the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI).

In addition, the letter mentions that the state of Yucatán “suffers from insufficient sewerage and the capacity to treat its wastewater, which translates into a state of continuous contamination of the peninsular water table.” This has been indicated during 2020 both to the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat) during the environmental impact assessment process for Phase 1 of the Maya Train, as well as in the forums organized by the Municipal Planning Institute of Mérida (Implan).

Activists accuse that this problem has not been identified or addressed by UN-Habitat, nor by the National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism (Fonatur), nor by Implan.

“This chain of responsibilities perfectly illustrates the lack of effective participation of local, municipal, and state authorities in the decision-making process about a project that profoundly impacts the region. Likewise, the absence of experts with real knowledge on the karst and the Yucatan aquifer is evident, which denotes a serious problem in the planning and execution process of this important federal project ”, they state.

Future of the region

They assure that the Maya Train threatens the Cuxtal municipal reserve, declared as an area subject to ecological conservation, fundamental for the recharge of the aquifer, and several environmental services to the city of Mérida.

“Without the right of way, this area is at risk of being fragmented, not only due to the construction of the railway facilities but also due to the continuous passage of trains during the next 50 years. In addition, this territory is inhabited by the Maya population that did not exercise their right to self-determination, in accordance with international commitments of the Mexican state, ” they add.

Finally, they point out that despite the numerous complaints that have been made publicly and continuously about this problem, the federal authorities in charge of the project have not given concrete answers and, on the contrary, have been in charge of evading their responsibilities and minimizing or discrediting the complainants, advancing in their plans and works around the Mayan Train.

They request a public hearing, where the future of the region is built through public debate, guaranteeing access to information, public participation, and access to justice in environmental matters as stipulated in the Escazú Agreement, ratified by the Mexican government in January 2021.

Articulation Yucatán Collective is described as a social organization and a space for transdisciplinary collaboration in favor of sustainable regional development. It is made up of members of civil society, local, urban, and rural communities, Maya indigenous people, and social organizations, specialists, academics, and students.

The Yucatan Times
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