lunes, 31 de marzo de 2014

Drought sweeps across Colombia

Drought withered large sectors of the Colombian countryside in March, provoking fires in the north and killing off thousands of animals in central regions, as Colombians were given a picture of near-calamitous conditions in several departments. Radio Santa Fe reported on 30 March ongoing operations against a fire of "unusual proportions" in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta park in Magdalena, which it stated had been burning for 12 days. Authorities attributed it to farmers starting "controlled" fires to clear the ground, especially in the locality of Jolonura. On 28 March, the broadcaster cited the Agriculture Minister Luis Felipe Henao Cardona as asking Colombians to use water responsibly for the extent of the drought. The departments he cited as suffering from drought were Boyacá, Casanare, Chocó, Córdoba, Guajira, Magdalena and Santander. The Minister said 25 districts in the country were facing water shortages, and nine only had contingency plans. Reports of preceding weeks focused on an intense drought in Casanare that had killed thousands of animals, both wild and domestic. While some officials asked media not to "speculate" on whether or not oil companies working in Casanare had helped dry water supplies, the state prosecution service (Fiscalía) had sent investigators to check on water use on estates and other installations there. In a report on reactions to the drought in Casanare, El Espectador cited specialists as saying that investigators would need 30 years of data to ascertain who was really responsible for the gravity of the drought there. The Governor of Casanare Marco Tulio Ruiz was cited as reminding visiting state investigators that the Government had allowed oil firms to be active in 97 per cent of Casanare. "It is all our faults, because we all destroy the environment in one form or another. Rice farmers, oil firms, palm oil cultivators, everyone...," he said on 28 March. Mr Henao in turn urged Colombians to use water sparingly, adding that no amount of infrastructure could make up for wasting water and ruining its sources. "You ask most people where water comes from and people reply, from the tap. This liquid comes from...sources that must be preserved," to maintain their flow, Radio Santa Fe cited him as saying.

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