BEIRUT — Judge Ghada Aoun has issued a decision to remove an object placed in riverbed of Nahr al-Kalb by Palms the Legend restaurant. The company has been given until the end of next week to comply with the order as the project is illegal, said TERRE Liban, an organization devoted to environmental education in Lebanon, in a statement Friday.
The ''project'' in question is a mobile wooden platform installed on the dry riverbed to celebrate events.
“Nahr al-Kalb is classified as a protected natural site by the Ministry of Environment. The Casino Nahr al-Kalb company, owner of Palms the Legend restaurant, does not have a license that allows it to occupy riverine public properties as stipulated by the Public Property Occupation Law,” the statement explained.
“The company also has no connection to the license granted in 2000 to the Nahr al-Fonoun company under Decree No. 2000/4311. Furthermore, this decree has been rendered null and void according to its Article 8, due to the company's failure to pay the required fees for several years,” the statement concluded.
L’Orient Today was unable to reach Palms the Legend for comment before this story was published.
The restaurant co-founder told L’Orient-Le Jour in July that they “have been setting up'' the targeted infrastructure ''every summer for almost ten years," and wondered why it's only been the subject of a ''violent media campaign'' this year.
TERRE Liban founder Paul Abi Rached said on June 15 that he had received photos of the platform encroaching on the river.
“It can be seen with the naked eye. You have the confetti that falls into the water and creates microplastic pollution, the reduction of the watercourse by an embankment ... The risks are numerous” he concluded, "but in the absence of an environmental impact study, we cannot grasp the full scope."
According to several observers, fireworks fired from the restaurant in June caused a brief fire, threatening the century-old olive trees.
Since 2019, Lebanon has requested that the UN place the inscription at and adjacent the site [of Nahr al-Kalb] be placed on its World Heritage List.
The site is still under threat, however. Since the end of Lebanon's Civil War, many construction companies came to develop projects on the waterway — from an animal park to a water park, restaurants and quarries. Since the garbage crisis of 2015 and the Oct. 2019 uprising, however, civil society groups have mobilized around the site. In 2020, they managed to prevent the construction of a Free Patriotic Movement headquarters on the site.
In recent weeks, citizen mobilization (and authorities' response) has impeded some illegal construction along the coast.