PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico, Jan. 24 (IPS) – The Mayan Train (TM), run by the government’s National Tourism Development Fund (Fonatur), threatens the Mayan jungle, the second largest in Latin America after the Amazon rainforest. America. are ecosystems and indigenous communities, as well as underground caverns and cenotes – freshwater sinkholes resulting from the collapse of limestone rock exposing groundwater.
The most ambitious megaproject of the government of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, according to the original environmental impact study, involves at least 1,681 hectares and the felling of 300,000 trees, with an investment so far amounting to about $ 15 billion, 70 percent of the initially planned cost.
The plan is for the TM, with 21 stations and 14 stops on seven routes, to run through 78 municipalities in the southern and southeastern states of Campeche, Quintana Roo, Tabasco and Yucatán, home to a total of 11.1 million people, by the end of 2023.
In Quintana Roo there are at least 105 flooded caves over 1500 meters long and 408 underwater caves. The peninsula’s porous karst soil threatens the mega project, which has forced authorities to change its layout.
In addition, between Playa del Carmen and Tulum – 61 km apart in the south of Quintana Roo – there are at least 13 cenotes.
The Maya Train, which covers four aquifers and 49 bodies of water along its route, includes a station in Playa del Carmen and another in Tulum, in Section 5.
Fabiola Sánchez, an activist of the non-governmental organization Voces Unidas (United Voices) de Puerto Morelos, talks about the possible impact of the railway in the municipality of Puerto Morelos, in Quintana Roo.
Environmentalists’ concerns stem from the 2020-2030 Urban Development Program, which they say favors hotel and real estate interests, at the expense of civic participation and sustainable planning, and promotes railroad construction.
Deforestation and urban sprawl could lead to waters with more sediment in the reefs off Puerto Morelos, increased production of solid and liquid waste, leaching and increased pollution, which would put even greater pressure on an ecosystem already disturbed by human activities.
The trains will carry thousands of tourists and cargo such as transgenic soybeans, palm oil and pork, important agricultural products in the region.
The Mexican government is promoting the mega project as a social development engine that would create jobs, boost tourism beyond traditional locations and strengthen the regional economy.
© Inter Press Service (2023) — All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service