THE CABINET on Wednesday decided to afford humanitarian assistance to residents of an area of Pissouri whose homes have become uninhabitable due to landslides.
The government had pledged ad hoc financial assistance to residents in June, but stressed that this was not compensation. No specific amount has been announced.
Interior minister Constandinos Petrides had said that, at present, compensating homeowners was ruled out.
The cabinet also decided to carry out work to shore up the area, known locally as Limnes, without having to wait for a study on how to comprehensively deal with the problem, which is expected next year.
The government will also expedite construction of a sewerage system.
Many of the affected homes in the area have virtually collapsed as a result of a continuous and accelerating landslide and many homes are now deemed unfit for habitation.
Homes and gardens have been ripped apart, walls and pools are collapsing and roads have split and buckled becoming impassable.
Desperate homeowners have long pleaded with the government for help, but to no avail.
In 2015, the then minister, Socratis Hasikos, said it was the government’s duty to intervene, but since his resignation in May 2017, no action has been taken.
In April, auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides said the government should not assume responsibly and compensate as it would set a precedent.
Residents insist that the catastrophic damage to their properties is due to a landslide triggered by uncontrolled groundwater belonging to the state and as such they are victims of a natural disaster and are entitled to state compensation, by law.
I wonder if the government’s decision to construct a sewerage system has anything to do with the fact that the European Commission referred Cyprus to the European Court Justice over its failure to ensure that all agglomerations with a population of more than 2,000 inhabitants have adequate collection and treatment systems for urban waste water as required under EU rules (Council Directive 91/271/EEC)?