Bill tries to make river protection areas more flexible

Urban rivers in metropolitan regions may be on the verge of being less protected. Currently under the Forest Code law, the banks of both urban and rural watercourses are considered areas of permanent preservation, and cannot be occupied by constructions or developments within a range of 30 to 500 meters, depending on the characteristic of the river.

The crisis today is a consequence of how we treat ‘urban rivers’

Bill 2510 changes this authorization for urban rivers. Instead of being protected by federal law, urban and metropolitan rivers are under the competence of master plans and municipal land use laws, with the decision falling to state and municipal environmental councils.

PL 2510 has already been approved by the Chamber of Deputies and is awaiting a vote in the Federal Senate. The approved text is the substitute for the rapporteur, deputy Darci de Matos (PSD-SC), to Bill 2510/19, by deputy Rogério Peninha Mendonça (MDB-SC).

Manifest gathers signatures against the PL

To give visibility to the damage caused by this proposal, a manifesto already brings together more than 60 social and environmental entities in Minas Gerais, as well as signatures of environmental leaders from all over the country and also from abroad.

In the manifesto it is also possible to access the complete list of federal deputies who voted in favor of the Bill.

Carla Magna, a resident of the Cercadinho basin, and also organizer of the Cercadinho and Queimada Córregos Vivos Project, warns of the problems of making the Forest Code more flexible.

The Córrego Cercadinho itself, which is located in the western region of Belo Horizonte (MG), underwent an attempt to release a project on its banks a few months ago.

“Today, the peripheral area, through which the stream passes, is stabilized, but in wealthy neighborhoods there are licensing requests from the Municipal Council. This year, a project 15 meters from the stream was released”, says Carla. The movement took advantage of the Forest Code – which requires a minimum of 30 meters -, won the case and stopped the work.

However, PL 2510 changes the issue and leaves the decision in the hands of the municipal power. “We are running out of legal recourse,” laments the environmentalist.

Rural vs. urban: different treatments

It is also noteworthy that the Bill is making a difference in treatment between rural and urban rivers.

The project’s rapporteur, federal deputy Darci de Matos (PSD-SC) defended the differentiation.

“The decision of the Federal Supreme Court (STJ) applies the Forest Code that applies to the Amazon in São Paulo, Florianópolis and Recife. The project will unblock Brazil and will give prerogatives to municipalities to legislate”, he defended.

In the environmentalist’s opinion, this stance is a mistake, since the “urban” river is the “rural” river, that is, it is born and passes through both cities and countryside.

“In fact, the crisis we are going through today is a consequence of how we treat ‘urban rivers’. It is this disrespect that has been generating floods and disasters. This is mathematical”, he highlights.

A survey by MapBiomas indicates that water scarcity should also be a concern for cities. For several reasons, including interference in watercourses and their banks, the surface covered with water in Brazil has reduced 15% since the early 1990s.

The loss of 3.1 million hectares in 30 years is equivalent to one and a half times the water surface of the entire northeast region in 2020.

Source: BoF Minas Gerais

Edition: Elis Almeida

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