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Feb 26, 2002

Suit to stop Chalillo adjourned until Thursday

It may have been a coincidence, but on the morning after the year’s biggest blackout, environmental activists were in court trying one more time to throw a legal spanner in the turbines of the proposed Chalillo Dam. Four applicants: BACONGO, The Belize Eco-Tourism Association, Sharon Matola and Eligorio Sho, are applying to the Supreme Court for judicial review of government’s decision to approve construction of the Chalillo project by B.E.L. But before the legal wrangling could really get into high gear, Chief Justice Abdulai Conteh called a halt to the proceedings and asked attorneys for the environmentalists to prepare a more properly structured application. That application will now be heard on Thursday. BACONGO and company maintain that government’s National Environmental Appraisal Committee did not follow the proper procedure in approving Chalillo’s Environmental Impact Assessment, failing to hold public hearings on the issue prior to making its decision. While the judicial review is being conducted, the applicants are requesting a stay of proceedings, which would void NEAC’s approval and stop the construction dead in its tracks. Representing BACONGO is attorney Marilyn Williams, while government is relying on Solicitor General Elson Kaseke, his deputy Minnet Hafiz and the additional firepower of private attorney Denys Barrow.

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