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Authorities seize ‘sophisticated’ illegal drilling rig in Azraq

By Hana Namrouqa - Dec 23,2017 - Last updated at Dec 23,2017

Authorities have confiscated a 'sophisticated' drilling rig for digging illegal wells and arrested four suspects in Azraq (Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Water and Irrigation)

AMMAN — Authorities have arrested four people in Azraq, east of the country for allegedly drilling an illegal well and obstructing enforcement of the law, an official source said on Saturday.

In the process, authorities seized and confiscated a “sophisticated” drilling rig for digging deep wells, the official at the Ministry of Water and Irrigation said.

A team from the ministry escorted by the Royal Badia Forces raided late last week a large plantation in Azraq after receiving information on an ongoing illegal drilling of a well in a private farm.

“The team inspected the farm and searched for the drilling site and the drilling rig, which was concealed upon news of an inspection team approaching. However, the inspectors discovered the place of the drilling rig and the well,” the source told The Jordan Times.

As the team was leaving the plantation with the confiscated drilling rig, relatives and owners of the farm locked the doors to prevent the ministry’s officials from leaving with the drilling rig, the source said, noting that the accompanying security force arrested those involved.

“The team sealed the well and seized and confiscated the drilling rig, while security authorities referred the suspects, two Jordanians and two Egyptians, for legal action for obstructing the work of the team,” the official said.

The ministry banned the drilling of wells in 1998 to limit random pumping of water, in order to preserve aquifers from depletion and salinity.

Water theft and violations on the water network and resources are being targeted by an ongoing campaign, launched by the ministry in 2013.

Recent ministry figures show that 32,000 violations on water networks and resources have been stopped since the campaign started. In addition, a total of 900 illegal wells have been sealed, 53 drilling rigs confiscated and 800 cases referred to courts.

 

In the process, a total of 25 million cubic metres of water have been retrieved per year, according to the ministry, which encouraged the public to contact the ministry’s unified water emergency number on 117116 to report any suspected violations against the water network and resources.

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