During a House environment committee on Wednesday, MPs expressed disappointment over delays in the removal of asphalt plants in the Dali area amid constant complaints from locals.
Last year, cabinet decided the plants should be relocated following multiple letters to state officials and numerous protests from locals, but also calls from MPs concerned over air pollution and harmful effects on schoolchildren in the area.
However, nothing has been done over the past 14 months because of disputes over the plants’ potential new location and additional studies by the agriculture ministry, to which it has attributed the delay.
The plants have been causing problems in Dali since 2013, emitting pollutants that cannot be measured by the labour inspection department, committee chair Charalambos Theopemptou said.
“For the past eight years, people have been suffering, inhaling and sleeping in polluted air… there is no interest in the health and safety of local schoolchildren, something largely ignored by the health ministry’s relevant service.”
Theopemptou expressed the committee’s general disappointment over unmet promises about the relocation of the plants, saying that “we cannot continue in the same ‘none of my business’ attitude, we can’t leave these people waiting”.
Disy’s Prodromos Alambritis said that the party expects to see the cabinet’s decision put into practice as soon as possible, to ensure a better quality of life for those affected, as their health is “non-negotiable”.
He added that relocating the plants must not simply transfer their problems to a different area but ensure a more environmentally friendly solution.
“We expect that the relevant ministries and services speed up the process to ensure the plants’ safe relocation,” he said.
It is infuriating to think that this matter has not reached a satisfactory conclusion after eight years of talks, Marina Nicolaou of Akel said.
She called on the government to assume responsibility and close down the asphalt plants, and like Alambritis added that the issues should not simply be transferred elsewhere, but resolved through comprehensive planning.
“The right to health is a fundamental human right, that we will defend for everyone,” she said.
Dipa’s Alekos Tryfonides echoed his colleagues’ statements, asking the environment department and everyone else involved to proceed with correct and substantiated data.