Pastaza Chiefs Reject Temporary Measures Proposed by the PCM to Address Sanitation Problems in the Basin

Translated from an article on Programa de Defensa Derechos Indígena (PDDI), published 14th March.

Indigenous community leaders from the Pastaza Basin expressed disappointment at the limited progress achieved through dialogue with the central government regarding environmental problems in this area of the north Peruvian Amazon.

This occurred after representatives of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers (PCM) claimed to have taken immediate action to address the need for access to clean water by delivering water purification kits to the families of the various communities in the basin.

Aurelio Chino Dahua, president of the Pastaza Quechua Indigenous Federation (FEDIQUEP) questioned the delivery of this equipment on the grounds that in the Pastaza Basin water is not only contaminated by the presence of coliforms, but also by other substances derived from oil.

The FEDIQUEP President reiterated indigenous demands made in their dialogue with the State, namely to declare an environmental emergency in the area due to the degree of contamination found in studies conducted by OEFA, OSINERGMIN DIGESA and ANA in October 2012.

The indigenous chiefs who participated in the FEDIQUEP special assembly in the community of Nuevo Andoas demanded permanent solutions to social and environmental problems in the basin. They are tired of hearing about temporary measures which do not tackle the problems generated by oil pollution.

Tapullima Edinson Sanchez, Alianza Topal community chief, demanded PCM representatives to uphold their commitment to build a health center in his community. Mr. Sanchez had explained several months ago that the hospital in their area had stopped working and community members had been left without access to health services.

He added that instead of worrying about the health of the affected population, rife with diseases such as malaria, officials are more concerned with removing medical equipment from the area and have not placed the first brick to build the health center.

Tapullima Sanchez said that to date nothing has been done to implement the comprehensive health plan promised to communities in the Topal Act, which was signed in June last year.

Notably, representatives of the PCM announced the delivery of water purification kits for each of the families in the basin, and water purification tanks for each school in the area so that the students do not consume contaminated water.

They also disclosed that next Monday representatives of the Ministry of Development and Social Inclusion and the Ministry of Housing will be entering the affected communities to gather the data necessary in order to implement sanitation programs.

Deborah Rivett, Friday, 15 March 2013

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