Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Plagues Of Vince Vidal

Oh dear me, Vince, what have you done? Our friendly and favourite government minister, Enviro Man Vince Vidal, has been getting it in the neck big time. It was all Vince's fault that great hectares (one hectare equals 2.47105 acres) of Mallorca were under water, that entire crops were ruined, that farmers will be left destitute, that Cala Ratjada was crashing into the sea, that rocks were tumbling in abundance onto roads across the Tramuntana.

Yep, it was all Vince's fault. What had he been doing with himself for the past year and a half? Why hadn't he been out with his cement mixer to shore up a hole in the wall in Cala Ratjada? Why hadn't he been digging out environmentally unfriendly vegetation from torrents and collecting several hundred supermarket shopping trolleys, bits of old furniture, bags of building material waste and chunks of former pine and palm tree trunks which had mysteriously found their way into the same torrents?

He really hasn't had the best of luck, has he. It was also his fault that the taps had been running dry and the reservoirs had become small ponds. What can he expect next? A plague of locusts? That'll be his fault as well.

The drought and the floods were the consequence of historical inaction related to the water resource system and the maintenance of the torrents. Yes, it may well be that the likes of Muro had been demanding that Vince pitch up and clean out its torrent, but there is such a thing - strangely enough - as budgets. Why did Vince have such a barney with Cati Cladera at finance? Just because he's a Mésite and she isn't? Well, no, maybe it had something to do with needing more moolah to keep the torrents flowing properly.

The environment, we have become very aware, does need investment. If it didn't, then we wouldn't have had the former ecotax and now the new tax which pretends that it isn't an ecotax. Environmentalists GOB insist that it should be, while Palma wants to spend it all on piles of its crumbling patrimony. But call the tax what you want, there is the small matter of half of last year's revenue going on water. That's water as in seeking to ward off the worst that extended periods of dry and hot weather might throw at Mallorca. And why? Because there hadn't been investment in the past. That's why. Vince is not to blame for that.

Of course, he can't really do anything right. When the farmers were whining about insufficient aid to compensate for an absence of forage, this was all down to Vince been parsimonious. And there was he, a minister with previous eco credentials up to his beard. Shame on you, minister. Now that Noah has been forced to admit the livestock two by two, the farmers are agitating for a different reason.

At least they can be thankful that Madrid has finally remembered there is a Mallorca and will be emptying the contingency fund piggy-bank to compensate for British diners being unable to devour the earliest new potato crop. Vince, while his tears add to the inundations as he surveys the sodden spud fields of old Sa Pobla, will be thinking that he really needs to have a word with his chums at GOB. They earnestly believe that Mallorca should revive its full one-time agrarian glory (?). Are they mad?

His cabinet colleagues, alarmed that the government as a whole is being lined up and shot at for having caused the floods, have told Vince that he needs to become Enviro Action Man. And this is what he is doing. Appearing here, there and everywhere. But if Vince and the cabinet thought they only had the floods and the missing part of a harbour wall to worry about, they had to think again. A plague is either on its way or is already here. Not locusts but the "xylella fastidiosa", the bacteria also known as olive ebola.

Here's something else to suggest that GOB are a couple of trees short of the full orchard, because olive ebola can be devastating. Vince knows it can be. But he hadn't let on that there were more cases of affected trees than the ministry was saying there were. More than the vagaries of weather, it is the handling of olive ebola that is raising questions about management at the environment and agriculture ministry. Almonds, olives, cherries, vines; they're all susceptible. Vince must be wishing that all he had to worry about was the drought.

No comments: