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Paying the Price for Rampant Development

DEPUTIES yesterday blamed over development for the catastrophic consequences of recent thunderstorms in Paphos, which killed two people and wrecked buildings and crops. “Nature may be slow, but it is punishing,” said DISY Deputy Costas Constantinou during yesterday’s meeting of the House Interior Committee, which met to discuss the possible responsibilities of local authorities and […]

DEPUTIES yesterday blamed over development for the catastrophic consequences of recent thunderstorms in Paphos, which killed two people and wrecked buildings and crops.

“Nature may be slow, but it is punishing,” said DISY Deputy Costas Constantinou during yesterday’s meeting of the House Interior Committee, which met to discuss the possible responsibilities of local authorities and government services for the damage caused during the storms.

Constantinou had submitted the issue for discussion after the first storm took place – and before the deaths of George and Maria Miltiadous, who had got trapped on a bridge in Kissonerga during a violent torrent before it collapsed and carried them away.

“Unfortunately, from the time we assigned the matter for discussion until now, we have witnessed the tragic death of two people, so we couldn’t make a difference in time.”

The first storm caused £2 million worth of damage to a hotel in the Coral Bay area, as well as significant destruction across the district.

“If the storm had happened during the night, we would definitely have been mourning more victims,” said the DISY deputy of the Paphos area.

Constantinou described how he had been witness to the situation in the specific hotel, where water levels had reached one metre high and the basement had been flooded out.

“Beds and tables were taken away to sea. We found elderly hotel guests grasping on to rocks in the sea. If this had happened during the night, these people would have died,” he said.

And it wasn’t just the hotel that suffered damage. Apartments, homes and fields were flooded out. “It is years of actions that led to these results,” said Constantinou.

“Uncontrolled development, with natural rivers cemented up and the creation of insufficient drainage systems has slowly but surely led to these devastating results.”

EDEK’s Fidias Sarikas – a former mayor of Paphos – agreed, adding that like the rest of the world, the climate in Cyprus has changed due to human intervention.

He blamed the current situation in Paphos on overdevelopment and the failure by authorities to clear clogged-up rivers in time

To avoid anarchy in future development, Interior Minister Neoclis Silikiotis stressed the need for a broader plan based on town-planning, environmental and social criteria.

During the meeting, Silikiotis announced that his ministry was currently in talks with Technical Chamber ETEK to appoint an independent technical committee, which will present a study concerning the situation in the Paphos area.

He added that based on the study, “we will see what measures we should adopt in the future in order to limit any problems and alter procedures that have been followed so far; and I am referring to the procedures that have been followed for the past decades and led to this situation today.”

 

Representatives from the various Paphos communities did not get the chance to speak during the meeting; they will be asked to attend the committee’s next meeting in two weeks’ time.

 

Copyright © Cyprus Mail 2006

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