It is worrying that, according to environmental activists, the government has still not given clear guidelines on where, and how, fracking may be conducted.
Fracking is hydraulic fracturing of underground shale or rock using water mixed with chemicals and is intended to release either oil or gas.
A number of people and companies have expressed interest in prospecting in the Karoo for potential fracking and gas recovery sites.
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Environmental activists say the government’s new regulations on fracking do not satisfy the need for explorers or investors to get clarity on what they may, not may not, do in ecologically sensitive areas.
But nor do they give any sense of security to communities in water-scarce areas that their groundwater resources might not be contaminated by exploration or exploitation.
Finding and exploiting oil or gas reserves can certainly offer a glimmer of hope for our battered economy – but any operations in areas like the Karoo must be carefully monitored.
We cannot allow a situation where it has taken millennia to turn an area like the Karoo into a global treasure of biodiversity, only to allow it to be destroyed on the altar of short-term profits, which may not even filter down to ordinary people.
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