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Komani-Karoo
Raising awareness against fracking

A MEMORANDUM prepared for the mayor of the Dr Beyers Naude Local Municipality last week, by the Support Centre for Land Change (SCLC), was “an urgent call to declare the municipality a fracking-free zone and to accele-rate a just transition towards a low carbon, renewable future.”

A national meeting against fracking was held by the SCLC in Graaff-Reinet on November 19, followed by a protest march through the town the following day.

Religious leaders, traditional leaders, women, youth, emerging farmers, farmworkers and marginalised peri-urban dwellers from communities around the country, supported by national land and environmental justice organisations, participated in the national meeting and procession march.

SCLC’s Graaff-Reinet programme manager, Chriszanne Janse van Vuuren, gave the organisation’s view that water intense extractive activities, such as fracking, can never be justified in a region without adequate water resources to sustain the livelihoods of its communities.

“The fact that most communities in the Karoo are already totally reliant on underground water qualifies the risk of fracking fluids leaking into the underground water table as an imminent threat to life in the Karoo,” she added.

“Water and air contamination will also put soil quality at risk. This has the potential of taking agricultural land completely out of production, thereby destroying the agricultural sector and, in effect, the little that is left of the economy of the Karoo.”

To the frustration of the organisers, the mayor did not accept the petition, saying that the required processes for a march had not been followed and his office was unaware of the protest. According to Janse van Vuuren, the mayor had been invited via e-mail, but failed to respond or even acknowledge receipt.

“We would hope that at least the main message was heard, that this is a climate emergency and we have to stop the exploration, production and consumption of fossil fuels in the interest of survival,” she concluded.

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