Farmers protest confiscation of land over unpaid water bills

Farmers farmer
(File photo: Ameer Khalifeh/Jordan News)
AMMAN — Dozens of farmers from the Azraq and the Eastern Badia regions said they were prevented from holding a sit-in in front of the Prime Ministry Wednesday morning to protest the Ministry of Water and Irrigation’s confiscation of their movable and immovable properties, Amman Net reported.اضافة اعلان

They then moved their sit-in to the gates of Parliament, and told reporters that they were punished for using artesian wells that were dug decades ago and of which the ministry was aware.

They said that they used to pay for the well water used to irrigate their lands, but the ministry raised water prices by as much as 20 times, without warning, rendering them unable to pay for the water anymore. As a result, many were forced to abandon their farms, while others continued farming, despite the high cost, because they had no other means of earning a living for themselves and their families.

In a joint statement, the farmers claimed that the Water Ministry “confiscated our movable and immovable properties and even our pensions and farming tools.”
The Water Ministry “confiscated our movable and immovable properties and even our pensions and farming tools.”
They also said that the ministry would calculate water consumption based on estimates rather than facts, adding that no water meters were used.

According to the statement, farmers decided to protest the ministry’s actions; the latter formed a committee that found major violations committed by the ministry’s employees and approved a 75 percent discount on water prices.

The ministry, however, did not approve the discount and demanded that all outstanding payments be made, according to the statement.

“This measure will force the population of these areas to leave, ... increase poverty and harm social stability, especially since thousands of women are working on these farms without any other means of earning a living except agriculture,” said the statement.

Money owed, the statement said, adds up to hundreds of thousands of dinars, in some cases millions, and most of the farmers are poor and cannot pay even the smallest amount of these dues, so they are forced to leave their homes and their farms will be sold at public auctions.

A ministry source told Jordan News that “the farmers are breaking the law by operating wells that do not have water meters”.

He said that the “lack of water meters at these unlicensed wells may raise the price of water they use”, stressing that these people want to use the land and water of the state and insist on breaking the law, and therefore we cannot provide assistance to them”.

“In 2004, the ministry gave farmers who own such wells the opportunity rectify their situation, but they did not cooperate with the ministry in this regard,” the source noted.

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