World Bank Cancels Loan For Controversial Lebanon Dam

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The World Bank on Friday said it was canceling a loan to fund a dam in Lebanon that environmentalists claimed could destroy a valley rich in biodiversity.

The Bisri Dam was partially suspended in June after the Washington-based development lender said it raised concerns about the project’s implementation and given the government of Lebanon until September 4 to finalize key agreements related to operations and maintenance as well as the environment.

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In a statement, the World Bank said it had notified the government that it was withdrawing its financing “due to non-completion of the tasks that are preconditions to the commencement of construction.”

“The canceled portion of the loan is $244 million and the cancelation is effective immediately,” the bank said.

Located in a valley 30 kilometres (20 miles) south of the capital, the dam aims to supply drinking water as well as irrigation for 1.6 million residents.

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Environmentalists and some farmers disputed assurances from the government and World Bank that the dam to be built on a seismic fault line does not increase the risk of earthquakes.

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