The government approved on Sunday a first-of-its-kind plan for regular garbage collection from a number of Bedouin communities in the Negev. The plan, formulated by the Environmental Protection Ministry, allocates NIS 40 million over the next five years for garbage collection and recycling.
Some 30,000 Bedouin inhabitants of the Negev do not currently have access to regular garbage removal. As a result, they throw out their trash near their homes and burn it, causing serious and ongoing environmental damage and health problems.
According to the plan, Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz will establish a committee of experts within a month. The committee will formulate and supervise plans for garbage removal from communities that have not had this service before. The funding is to come from a number of ministries, with the Environmental Protection Ministry in charge of developing parameters to gage the success of the plan. These parameters will be presented to the committee at the end of this year.
As part of the plan, facilities will also be built to enable some garbage to be recycled before the remainder is sent to a landfill. Some NIS 3.6 million has also been allocated to collect the existing large amount of refuse that has collected around the communities, including construction waste.
The new services will encompass communities in the area of the Al-Kasom and Neveh Midbar regional councils, some of which have only recently been recognized by the state. One reason for the lack of garbage pick-up services is that ownership of the land on which some of the homes in these communities have been built is in dispute. As a result, the homes do not have legal standing and consequently do not pay local taxes. This means that the local authorities do not have enough income to operate garbage collection services. The new plan also calls for a fee to be levied on households for garbage collection, which will partly pay for the service.
The Environmental Protection Ministry is to initiate the establishment of a unit, in which young people can work as one of their alternatives for doing national service, by helping communities institute garbage collection services. We continue to act to assist weaker groups, including minorities and the ultra-Orthodox, Peretz said following approval of the plan. This is an important step to change the quality of the environment in these communities, and improve their quality of life, he added.