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Help for some Pissouri landslide victims

The Cyprus Government has promised to provide some financial assistance to a number of Pissouri landslide victims, which is currently affecting about one million square metres southwest of the village centre.

Cyprus government to help some Pissouri landslide victims THE GOVERNMENT on Monday pledged ad hoc financial assistance to residents of Pissouri whose properties are damaged by the unstable ground there, but stressed that this was not compensation per se.

During a discussion in parliament, Interior Minister Constandinos Petrides said an amount would be disbursed to the affected homeowners in the form of ‘humanitarian assistance’.

It was not immediately clear whether this involved a one-time payment or a recurring imbursement.

For the time being, Petrides said, compensating the homeowners in Pissouri was being ruled out.

Compensation would imply the government is taking responsibility.

In the meantime, a study is to be launched to determine the causes of the problem. A call for tenders for the study is already out, with a July 12 deadline for expressions of interest.

The study would be conducted over two phases: the first lasting four months and focusing on the reasons for the phenomenon; and the second lasting 152 weeks and recommending ways of addressing the issue in the event that relocating the residents is not deemed an option.

Petrides again urged affected property owners to seek redress from the developers and contractors.

Georgia-Elina Zoi, a lawyer representing the disaffected community, told MPs that since 2015 they have been struggling to persuade authorities that the issue is a landslide and not soil subsidence.

She said the phenomenon is impacting not only houses but also electricity cables and roads which have no overlying structures.

The land shifts by approximately 30 centimetres a month, Zoi added. And following this year’s heavy rains, many more residences have been affected which previously had not been.

She said a study by the Geological Survey Department has already demonstrated that the issue is a landslide, due to an absence of infrastructures to manage groundwater – meaning the problem can be attributed to an omission by the state.

The lawyer said the Interior Minister wants to provide financial assistance to only 17 homes, whereas the properties actually affected are far more.

The residents want their properties to be relocated.

Speaking to reporters later, Greens MP George Perdikis censured the government for its ‘stinginess’ in dealing with the Pissouri community.

In his opinion, the landslide is a geological phenomenon. But although developers and contractors may be culpable in some cases, it was implausible that this was the case across the board, especially since the land is shifting in spots where no structures exist.

Many homes in Pissouri have virtually collapsed, the result of a continuous and accelerating landslip. Seventeen homes are now deemed unfit for habitation.

In late March the Auditor-General advised the Attorney-General that the whole cause of the destruction of homes in southwest Pissouri is attributable to errors in calculations made by structural engineers registered with the technical chamber who designed the substructures of homes in southwest Pissouri between 1980 and 2005.

Critics say the Auditor-General referred to the unstable area as ‘Lakes’ (or ‘Limnes’ in Greek, meaning small brook or water spring), whereas a parliamentary committee had recently identified that the whole of southwest Pissouri – about one million square metres – is unstable due to landslide.

What caused the landslide?

The Auditor-General insists that the destruction of homes is due to errors made by structural engineers who designed the substructures of homes.

As the photograph below clearly shows, he is wrong. The destruction of homes is due to the incorrect planting of olive saplings, which has caused the ground to open up while slipping following its natural slope.

Pissouri landslide

Whoever planted these olive saplings needs to compensate the owners of the homes they’ve destroyed or damaged as a result of their negligence!

Readers' comments

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  • Antony Walker says:

    I forgot to ask: will the Editor please ask the Auditor General what structural calculations should have been made before planting an olive sapling?

    Ed: I’ll see what I can do.

  • Antony Walker says:

    The Kallikantzaros probably writes press releases for The Auditor General.

  • Antony Walker says:

    The olive tree spoof is very amusing but unfortunately the District Administration will latch on to this and it will become Government policy that olive saplings caused the landslide in combination with creatures from the black lagoon, and secret gravity-defying lakes invisible to high resolution photography.

    The sad truth is that the Government has done nothing for seven years and will do nothing until people are killed. The only question is how many must die before the Minister gets into his limousine and visits Pissouri.

    Ed: You forgot the mischievous Kallikantzaroi. But seriously if someone had been passing that retaining wall today when it collapsed they would almost certainly have been killed.

    The wall was in perfect condition when I visited in February, but in less that four months it collapsed!

    Pissouri Wall Collapse

  • The views expressed in readers' comments are not necessarily shared by the Cyprus Property News.

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