The Presidential agreement to accelerate opinions, permits or licenses required and start infrastructure works will allow further progress in the construction of the Mayan Train, which already presents an estimated delay of five months, and does not exempt the National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism (Fonatur) to comply in a timely manner with the established laws and regulations, assured its director Rogelio Jiménez Pons.
Although he specified that this does not imply that the entire project can be completed before December 2023, because there is only an impact on civil works and the rolling stock responds to technical manufacturing times.
“There have been many bureaucratic processes in the last 30, 40 years that are unjustifiable in time. We understand perfectly when the private sector complains about that. They are part of the rheumatic elephant that has to be moved, but it has nothing to do with the lack of transparency, we are obliged to render accounts ”, he assured.
After participating in the inauguration of a supplier fair for Alstom, leader of the train manufacturer consortium, he said that any gain in time in a construction process is essential for the train, because there are many procedures that, from his point of view, can be shortened.
With the Presidential agreement, from Monday the federal agencies have five business days to give the corresponding authorization (environmental, archaeological, land use, among others) provisionally and 12 months to give the final one.
However, the presidents of the Mexican Chamber of the Construction Industry (CMIC) and the National Chamber of Consulting Companies (CNEC) have expressed their disagreement with accelerating the start of a work in this way and not meeting technical times that are current.
– With the agreement, it will be possible, for example, to authorize the environmental impact statement (MIA) of section 4, which they presented last month and in a normal situation it would take six months. What will happen if they build and then the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat) says: the MIA was wrong? Builders see risk in that, Jiménez Pons was asked.
– The risks are up to us as a dependency. We have to be redundant for those demands. There will be a higher level of detail that we have to increase in those 12 months to fully comply with the law, environmental payments-repairs. We know that the revision will be with very strong scrutiny, but it gives us time to do it correctly and not hinder the work rhythms. It is necessary to guarantee that the work is finished and all the paperwork is impeccable.
The head of Fonatur mentioned that there are multiple permits and authorizations related to the Mayan Train, although he considers environmental issues, community assemblies or archaeological issues as the main delay factors.
An example: a supporting technical study (in which the interested party must submit together with the request for authorization of change of land use in forest lands before the competent authority of the Semarnat) that is required for a change of line on the fly. To get an answer, you have to wait 45 business days.
In the Mayan Train, just last month the MIA of section 4 was presented (those of the first three sections are already authorized) and those of sections 5, 6 and 7 are still missing, the last two will be built by military engineers.
“The joke is that they release us the sections, that we have five days of integration and we start working, because suddenly you integrate everything and just as the (environmental) law is, it gives you 45 business days to respond and there are changes that have to be do on the go. Imagine that suddenly the line is defined, that it happens to us, and there is an archaeological find or a subsoil problem, then we have to make corrections and it takes us more time. If you add the paperwork to that, times go by and it creates a lot of uncertainty ”, he explained.
Agreement violates the right to a healthy environment: CEMDA
Contrary to the optimism of Fonatur about the facilities that the presidential agreement would give it, the Mexican Center for Environmental Law (CEMDA), an NGO that has supported legal actions against the Mayan Train for considering it harmful to the ecosystem, affirmed that the presidential agreement is a violation of the human right to a healthy environment as it violates the principles of non-regression, prevention, precaution and intragenerational justice.
The foregoing, since “by ignoring the procedures and forcing the granting of permits, licenses and opinions, the assessment of the environmental impacts and damages that the works and projects may generate is omitted, without establishing adequate repair and mitigation measures. This leaves ecosystems, environmental services, as well as the people and communities that depend on them in a state of vulnerability ”.