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Cyprus Internet Directory [ Trees fall ahead of Eleftheria project ]

Trees fall ahead of Eleftheria project

Author: 
Patrick Dewhurst

THE GREEN party yesterday staged a protest against the mass felling of trees in Nicosia’s Eleftheria Square which is taking place ahead of the imminent large scale redevelopment there.

Around 20 members of the party and local residents’ group, Awake within the Walls gathered in the blazing afternoon sun, raising banners amid the buzz of chainsaws and revving Nicosia municipal diggers that were clearing the trees.

Two protesters unfurled a large banner which read: “We are asking for green development. No to destruction.”

Meanwhile, a visibly upset Green Party chairman George Perdikis said: “This is an environmental crime... I am shocked... they have destroyed everything.”

Perdikis suggested the timing of the tree clearance was an attempt by the municipality to dodge public and parliamentary criticism in the wake of Sunday’s election.

“They have waited until after the elections to commit this environmental crime...  Maybe they had to do it because they are afraid of the parliamentarian discussion, and they are afraid of the people.”

He added: “They didn’t want the people of Nicosia to understand their real environmental policies and that their so called environmental policies are rubbish.”

The Municipality defended the project yesterday, saying that the work was being carried out with forestry department approval, and that all of the felled trees would be replanted.

Eleftheria redevelopment project manager Saverios Vrahimis said: “As part of the re-design of the square, we will chop, trim or move several trees so as to reveal the Venetian walls, but we plant to plant a further 102 and relocate several.”

Asked about Perdikis’ claim that this was a crime, Vrahimis said: “For one thing, there are laws about this and you cannot cut down trees without permission... We surveyed the area with the forestry department who approved (the trees’ removal).”

This will be little consolation for one local resident, and Awake Within the Walls member, Paula.

She said yesterday: ““We’ve been expecting this to happen but we didn’t think it would happen.

I thought maybe they get it that on this island that they like greenery.”

Asked what they would do next, Paula said: “The plans say that they will have to cut them because of this pure cemented square (which the municipality is building as part of the plans). It breaks my heart, but there is nothing we can do.”

Perdikis said: “The trees have been here for as long as I can remember... I played here as a child 45 years ago, and there were taller trees here then, so they might be around 80 years old.”

Yesterday’s protest against the Eleftheria redevelopment was not the first.

In April last year the Association of Cypriot architects challenged the designs by Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid , which they said could damage the archaeologically important site, discovered during an archaeological dig around the bastion in 2008.

Following the antiquities department’s involvement, the municipality altered the plans to leave a larger space between the new construction and the bastion.

The Eleftheria square redevelopment project is one of 17 currently being undertaken by the municipality, costing around €155 million in total.

The municipality intends to complete the main part of the project in time for Cyprus’ assumption of the EU rotating presidency in 2012, with the whole project due for completion in two years’ time.



(Source: Cyprus Mail)
Copyright © Cyprus Mail 2008 Please contact Cyprus Mail for the copyright terms of this article.



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