The Energy Ministry on Tuesday dispatched workers to start the forcible installation of high-voltage power lines in Mansourieh, with Electricite du Liban workers being protected by security forces to prevent residents from hindering the works.
The angry residents, who have spared no effort to stop the hazardous power lines from being installed over the area's houses and schools, scuffled with the police that used force to suppress the protesters, some of whom were seen live on TV being hit on the head with batons.
Works were later stopped after the residents put pressure by blocking a main road in the area. It is worth noting that installation was taking place in a private land whose owner objected to the brazen encroachment.
"I've spent two hours telling them to get off my land, but no one was listening to me," the owner told MTV.
Protests have been staged in the area since 2011 to denounce plans for high-voltage power lines which, according to subsequent energy ministers, are needed to tackle the country’s electricity crisis as the project aims to connect a power plant in Mkalles to one in Bsalim.
A delegation from the Metn area had met with Energy Minister Nada Boustani to explain to her the residents' concerns and demand that the power lines would be installed underground instead. However, the minister refused to pay heed to the residents' fears, deciding to go on with the plan despite objections.
Kataeb lawmaker Elias Hankache called on both President Michel Aoun and Maronite Patriarch Bechara al-Rahi to intervene to resolve this problem, affirming that the residents will not allow power lines to be installed above the ground.
Hankache is set to meet with the Maronite patriarch later on Tuesday, Voice of Lebanon radio station reported.
“Force must be used against drug dealers and the corrupt, not against unarmed citizens,” Hankache told MTV channel as he was shoring up the residents' action against the forcible installation works.
For his part, Kataeb politburo member and Former Economy Minister Alain Hakim posted a video showing the scuffle between Mansourieh residents and security forces.
“What is happening is unacceptable, and the state’s forcible installation of high-voltage power lines in Mansourieh reminds us of the same practices that used to take place during the Syrian occupation in Lebanon,” Hakim said in a tweet.