Residents of the Terra Vista settlement, in the municipality of Arataca, in southern Bahia, have been denouncing, since July, the delay in removing an irregular dump that dumps waste irregularly on the site. The settlement had certified agroecological production.
The Prefecture of Arataca claims that the rains hamper the removal of waste that has been dumped daily on site since 2021 by the collection company hired by the municipal management.
Farmer Lourisval Mendes, known as Seu Loro, is unable to renew the organic certification of his production because of the garbage deposited on his plantation. “For me, this is sad. After a process of so many years trying to get credit for an agroecological project, it is exhausting. We will never agree with such a critical situation”, he laments.
The company hired by the management of Mayor Fernando Mansur Gonzaga (PSD) to collect and transport garbage in the municipality began, in 2021, to dump waste irregularly on the farmer’s lot, one of the oldest residents of the Terra Vista settlement.
Dumpsters, including hospital waste, were deposited daily on his lot, including at night, weekends and holidays. But the farmer says that the problem with waste has been going on for much longer, since the early 2000s, when the city government installed a dump on a plot of land adjacent to Terra Vista. And, therefore, it is no longer able to renew the certification of agroecological production.
“Since 2009 it has expired (the document) and we are no longer able to reactivate the certificate”, he says.
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The garbage reaches a Permanent Preservation Area, at the head of two sources of the River Aliança. 200 meters from the dump, there is a treatment plant, where the Empresa Baiana de Águas e Saneamento collects water to supply the homes of the population of Arataca.
“In addition to this (dump) that is here more or less on the bank of the river, they made a dump at the head of the source. Probably all the slurry falls into this river, you can see the water in the conditions in which it is”, he says. Seu Loro, showing the polluted river.
The settlers demand compensation for their Loro for the loss of organic certificates, for the drastic reduction in their cocoa production and for the disregard of their history of struggle, as explained by Tarcísio Matos Costa, coordinator of the Cabruca Institute, an organization whose aim is to mission to value the production system known as “cacau-cabruca”, a crop that seeks to preserve native vegetation.
“It harmed Seu Loro’s area, causing environmental and economic damage. Because this is an agroecological settlement. How can it be agroecological like that? It causes economic damage, because Seu Loro stops selling his cocoa with a seal” , explains Costa.
After complaints from families in the settlement last month, the removal of garbage was initiated by the city hall, but it is done at a slow pace. The municipal management only started to take measures after being notified by the Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform (Incra), legally responsible for the settlement area, which called the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office and the Institute for the Environment and Water Resources.
The Environment manager for the Municipality of Arataca (BA), Rogério Matos, downplays the problem and blames the rains for the delay in garbage removal. “It’s already taking out (the garbage). The perimeter is already being closed, so that others don’t throw it. It rains a lot here, so it delays the work, but it’s already being done, it’s already being arranged”, he said.
The Terra Vista Settlement was officially implemented in 1994, but the occupation of the land was initiated by the MST on March 8, 1992, in honor of International Women’s Day. With 900 hectares, the settlement currently has 55 families and is a reference in environmental preservation and agroecology.
Editing: Thalita Pires