Tax payers may have to foot the bill for Pissouri homeowners affected by an active landslide, but details remain unclear as to how much money and who may qualify.
(Click here for an update to the story)
Following a House Interior Committee hearing on Monday, members of parliament heard from a ministry official that experts say the active landslide in Pissouri is “not a local problem” and that government administration would soon discuss payouts for homeowners who have been ordered to vacate their destroyed houses.
Local residents blame authorities for failing to carry out proper infrastructure works, while local officials pointed fingers at private developers
As a result of slow-moving land slippage, which first appeared in 2012 in the area, dozens of homes have been destroyed with cracks on the walls, broken pipes, damaged drains, road failures and many other infrastructure problems. The number recently jumped to 240 according to recent figures, while half of those homes are considered to have serious damage not covered by home insurance plans.
Local residents blame authorities for failing to carry out proper infrastructure works, which would have been necessary to manage the risk from underground water tables and build support for the sliding hillside.
But local government officials have in the past pointed fingers at private developers who went ahead and filled in high water table areas with debris without proper geological management.
The government has been dismissing for a number of years a private study that concluded the problem ought to be declared a natural disaster, a description which would have meant all people affected will be entitled to compensation.
Footing the bill for owners of condemned houses
During the committee hearing, a ministry official said a new study that could run in the millions is necessary for figuring out what had happened and how to resolve the problem. Knews understands that establishing the exact cause of land slippage in the Limnes area, whether natural occurrence or manmade error, would have direct impact on who may have to foot the bill in the end.
But House Speaker Demetris Syllouris, who visited the area recently to meet with locals, pointed out that people affected by landslides would need support until restoration projects take hold somewhere in late 2021, as estimated by timelines presented to the committee.
So far, four families have been formally ordered to vacate and abandon their homes, while more households are expected to receive similar orders. But it was not clear how much money will be earmarked for affected homeowners, some of whom still have mortgages on their soon-to-be-condemned houses.
The issue picked up steam last year when BBC ran a story on British families who settled in Pissouri but said they felt abandoned by the local government.