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‘Illegal wells in Al Lubban sealed under agreement with tribal leaders’

By Hana Namrouqa - Aug 16,2014 - Last updated at Aug 16,2014

AMMAN — The Ministry of Water and Irrigation has reached an agreement with tribal leaders in Al Lubban in Madaba Governorate to seal illegal wells in the area, a government official said on Saturday.

Noting that the ministry issued notifications to owners of illegal agricultural wells across the country demanding that they seal the wells before the end of this year, the official said the wells in Al Lubban, located 30km south of the capital, were sealed without the intervention of security authorities.

“The ministry’s teams and vehicles headed to the area unescorted by security forces and sealed eight illegal agricultural wells in the presence of tribal leaders,” the official, who requested to remain unnamed, told The Jordan Times over the phone.

The Water Authority of Jordan (WAJ) will start sealing all illegal agricultural wells across the Kingdom by the end of this year, when a grace period given to farmers by the Cabinet in November 2013 ends. The Cabinet endorsed a decision last year allowing farmers to continue using water from illegal wells to irrigate their crops until the end of 2014.

There are over 1,500 illegal agricultural wells across the country, the majority of which are in the Jordan Valley, according to official figures.

The Cabinet decision, which allowed owners of illegal agricultural wells to continue pumping water for irrigation, stipulated that they pay for it and stop cultivating crops that depend on the well water by the end of this year.

The ministry said that owners of illegal wells pay 150 fils per cubic metre for the first 10,000 cubic metres pumped, while the price rises to 250 fils for 10,000-30,000 cubic metres and 500 fils for over 30,000 cubic metres.

In March, WAJ started issuing notifications to owners of illegal agricultural wells, demanding that they pay their dues, which exceed JD24 million.

The notifications detail the name of the debtor and the required cost, which is either estimated according to the terrain of the agricultural unit, the type of crops, the energy consumed, satellite images, or according to the readings of water gauges, according to the Water Ministry.

At the time, the ministry said that owners of the illegal agricultural wells who fail to pay their dues by August 15 will have their movable and immovable assets seized by authorities, who will take other legal measures, including a travel ban. 

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