Environmentalists and scientists request consultation on section 5 of the Maya Train Project

(Photo: Juan Manuel Contreras)

The care of the aquifer, a crucial element in the Yucatan Peninsula, they point out.

(MERIDA, YUC. – TYT).- Archaeologists, science teachers, biologists, environmentalists, speleologists and researchers launched a public position addressed to President Andrés Manuel López Obrador in which they request a consultation on the section 5 of the Maya Train project.

These people point out that the basis for sustainable growth in the Yucatan Peninsula must be firmly rooted in respect for the environment, care for the aquifer, a crucial element in the Peninsula, and protection of socio-cultural wealth and all biodiversity.

“We urge the President, in line with his declared policies of transparency, honesty, and adherence to the law, and given the evident fragility and natural wealth of section 5 North and South of the project to adhere to the current laws that determine carrying out a prior and informed consultation with the native peoples and communities that will be affected, in accordance with ILO Convention 169 and obtaining their explicit consent, as well as the environmental impact statements of the entire territory included in the project , and that the layout be planned based on the factors described in this manifesto, and not only abiotic or economic factors”, highlights the document made public this Monday, Februaty 14th.

Those who signed the document invoke the right to the environment, which was instituted in the text of article 4 of the Constitution in 1999, establishing that: “everyone has the right to an adequate environment for their development and well-being.” The area on which the work will be carried out -they mention- includes more than 50 municipalities of Chiapas, Tabasco, Yucatan, Campeche and Quintana Roo, where various native groups currently live and is one of the most biodiverse areas in the world, it is the second largest forest (and “lung”) in Latin America after the Amazon.

“We express our concern specifically in section 5 North and South because the new route will have particularly serious effects, such as:

  • Fragmentation of the territory
  • Depletion and contamination of the aquifer of the Yucatan Peninsula
  • Extinction of flora and fauna
  • Generation of hazardous waste construction materials

Large amounts of stone material will be needed for the construction of the Maya Train, which will also generate a negative impact in the areas where the quarries from which this material is extracted are located,” details the text. 

Experts are concerned that the proposed works will increase the fragmentation and loss of ecological connectivity between conservation areas, favoring the reduction of forest cover, the isolation of populations of flora and fauna, the interruption of biological corridors, the microclimate change and habitat transformation. The right of way for a work like the one that is intended to be built, they say, determines the removal of an immense amount of primary and secondary vegetation that today gives shelter to hundreds and probably thousands of species that already face serious risks of extinction. 

Section 5 South, which runs from Playa del Carmen to Tulum, will pass over or upstream of various cave systems such as: Sac Mul, Angry Wasp, Pixan Bel, Pool Tunich, Jaguar Paw, Chango Místico, Ponderosa, Minotauro, Oxbel Ha , Sac Actun, Dos Ojos and Xunan Ha. Among the systems mentioned are the two largest semi-flooded caves in the Yucatan Peninsula and the largest flooded cave system in the world. 

In total, the Quintana Roo Speleological Survey reports that more than 1,650 kilometers of flooded caves and 360 kilometers of semi-flooded caves have been mapped. However, according to experts, these cave systems are just one visible feature that may represent only 10 percent of a network of interconnected conduits that transport and store the fresh water that supports all life. 

“The Maya Train project will have a negative impact by causing total deforestation, since only this section that includes 120 kilometers between Cancun and Tulum will cut down trees of various species such as the Ramón tree, Cedar, Ciricote, Chico Zapote, Ceibas , Mahogany, different species of palms and vegetation associated with wetlands, causing fragmentation and loss of habitat for priority species for conservation and in danger of extinction such as the jaguar, whose distribution is divided into zones called ARCJ (regional areas for conservation of the jaguar) such as the Yum Balam-Sian Ka’an corridor and a large number of ejidos that are part of the jungles of Quintana Roo. Different species of reptiles will be affected, such as turtles, iguanas, snakes and crocodiles, many species of bats, endemic and migratory birds too.

Finally, they emphasize that the Yucatan Peninsula does not have a capillary waste collection system, but that in many municipalities the inhabitants burn the waste in the open air. Likewise, it does not have an efficient and functioning sewage system in all the municipalities, with wastewater discharges being one of the main problems of groundwater contamination in the peninsula: “the Maya Train and related works will not only produce waste in its construction, but in its operation they intend to displace millions of tourists and thousands of other people who will generate more waste”.

The Yucatan Times
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