Cyprus Mail
Cyprus

Pissouri land to be mapped, residents warned about compensation

One of the affected homes

The tender for a land management study of the Limnes area of Pissouri, where residents have been forced to abandon their homes due to land slippage, will be launched this month, the interior ministry announced on Monday.

However, it remains unclear how far the owners of damaged properties will be compensated by the government.

“The auditor-general has pointed out that a decision to compensate the affected owners by the government will create a precedent for similar cases and is basically a gift to the developers who sold the residences to unsuspecting buyers,” Monday’s statement said.

“The auditor-general pointed out that it is unacceptable that a non-existent obligation should be transferred to the shoulders of the Republic.”

The tender will be open for three months and the preliminary findings are expected to be submitted around mid-January 2020, the ministry noted.

Based on the preliminary study and proposals for a solution to soil instability in the area, the ministry will formulate a policy to deal with the problem.

At the same time, the ministry will ensure it will get the proper legal advice by involving the attorney-general.

In Pissouri, an area of approximately 500,000m² has serious problems with sliding soil, which started after intense rainfall in 2012, the ministry explained. In 2015, a preliminary study was completed which indicated the problem mainly concerned groundwater in the area which remained trapped in places where before there had been lakes.

“The view of the geological survey department, which has been constantly monitoring the problem since 2012, is that what is usually suggested in these cases is the implementation of measures to support and stabilise the region. The problem continues to exist and to date there have been damages to about 75 buildings, six of which have been declared unsuitable for habitation, and on the basis of Article 15B of the road and building Law the Limassol district administration has issued notices for their evacuation,” the ministry declared.

The district administration, the ministry said, is constantly carrying out repair work for cracks and other damages, the cost of which has so far exceeded €870,000, and the department has spent about €120,000 to study the area and conduct chemical analysis on samples taken from groundwater.

Proper research should have been done by developers before housing units were built in the area, the government believes.

The government will step in to help, but homeowners should take legal action against the developers who have built and sold them the homes, the ministry added.

In 2016, after some property owners paid for a study to assess the situation and homeowners were asked to submit these to the government but the ministry says it is yet to receive any revised studies or information that legal action has been taken against the companies involved in the land development.

The comments came after Pissouri residents blocked the Limassol to Paphos highway on Sunday morning to demonstrate against the lack of compensation from the state for the damaged homes.

“The protest is taking place as we consider that the state is delaying to solve a problem that should have been resolved some time ago,” said community leader of Pissouri Lazaros Lazarou.

“We demand what has happened in similar cases in other villages in Cyprus, where the state, in worse times than we are now facing, has moved entire villages. For us it is just one neighbourhood,” he continued.

According to lawyer for the home owners Elina Zoi 15 houses are considered dangerous but the owners continue to live in them as they have nowhere else to go.

In 2015, some of the property owners formed the Pissouri Housing Initiative Group (PHIG) and paid out thousands of euros to obtain studies and papers from various renowned international experts and also satellite imaging, at a cost of €25,000, which measured the movement of the land. According to the study, the movement is up to 40cm per year, which is a lot when it’s pressing against a house.

Damage includes cracks in interior and exterior walls, swimming pools, roads, pavements, footpaths, retaining walls, drains, water pipes and other infrastructure works.