By George Psyllides
A FORMER interior minister had granted an exemption to a developer to build a large-scale project near the island’s biggest reservoir, putting the water supply at risk of contamination, the House Environment Committee heard on Friday.
The committee also heard that the attorney-general would be looking into whether any irregularities had taken place.
Green Party MP Giorgos Perdikis charged that former interior minister Christos Patsalides, just before leaving office in 2008, had granted an exemption to extend the residential zone in Alassa some 60 metres from the Kouris reservoir.
Perdikis said the area was four times bigger than the current area occupied by the Alassa community.
The permit had been issued to Alpha Panareti, which submitted plans for a mixed development including a golf course, and 1,010 residences near the village that currently has 200 homes.
The golf course application was later rejected.
Perdikis said the water development department strongly opposed the development because it violated the protection zone around Kouris and there was a serious danger of the water being contaminated.
A water department official told the committee that town-planning had asked for their view on changing the zone.
On January 14, 2008, the department asked for additional information, considering the matter very serious.
In the meantime however, the minister signed the decree to change the zone, granting a 40 per cent building coefficient.
The project is also opposed by the island’s Scientific and Technical Chamber (ΕΤΕΚ).
“Even though it is located within a residential zone, it still falls within the protection zone of the reservoir,” ETEK said recently. “Defining such protected zones is the duty of the Republic, arising from the European Directive 2000/60/EC, which essentially prohibits such developments in specific areas.”
The community says that their need to develop their properties must also be taken into consideration.
The developer suggested that the water department must find other ways to protect reservoirs, not through obstructing development.
The company said it was prepared to exchange the property next to Kouris with other land of equal value.