ILOCOS SUR INKS DEAL TO DREDGE ABRA RIVER

VIGAN CITY – The provincial government and a Taiwanese mining firm signed an agreement for the immediate dredging of the narrow and silted Abra River which threatens low-lying areas in Metro Vigan including the Heritage City.

Raymund Sinay, Environment and Natural Resources Management Officer, said a monitoring and assessment of the Environmental Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and ENRO, showed that the historic Abra River popularly known as Banaoang River is shallow and silted and needs to be rehabilitated to lessen the impact of strong typhoons.

 “It’s too shallow that even a banca can’t pass smoothly or you can just walk in shallow parts to cross the river,” Sinay said.

He recommended the urgent conduct of dredging operations to avoid intense flooding in Santa, Caoayan, Bantay, Sta. Catalina and Vigan.

He said that under the agreement, the mining company will conduct the one- kilometre dredging operations using its own equipment and people with no government expenses.

Isla Verde has constructed its own processing plant in Caoayan town to process metallic substances which will be extracted from its dredging operations but they will comply with environmental conditions in the contract including the payment of extracting fees to the barangay or municipality, Sinay said.

Extracted black sand in the operations will be left here and not be transported abroad although the company barge has been docked in Caoayan river, the official added.

The dredging operations will be monitored by government agencies concerned including the private sector such as religious  and environmental groups to ensure  environmental protection.

The Taiwanese mining firm is in the process of complying with environmental requirements imposed by Mines and Geo-Sciences Bureau before conducting the dredging operations. Ben P. Pacris/PIA-1/Ilocos Sur