Cyprus Mail
Featured Opinion Our View

Our View: Unacceptable delays in moving Dali asphalt plants

A previous protest by pupils and parents in Dali

Following another recent demonstration by Dali residents over the delay in relocating two polluting asphalt plants in their area, MPs picked up the topic again on Wednesday at the House environment committee. Leading the charge, Greens leader Charalambos Theopemptou accused the relevant authorities of having no interest in the health and safety of local schoolchildren.

For the past eight years, people have been suffering, inhaling and sleeping in polluted air, he told MPs.

The government has not exactly been proactive on the situation. It took them eight years to make a decision to move the two offending plants, and now 14 months have passed without any progress to speak of.

Part of the problem is the opposition from local community leaders in the Koshi area which the government slated as the relocation site. How they decided to shift a problem in a residential area to another location where people would be affected is anyone’s guess but that, along with having to carry out feasibility studies, is delaying the move even further.

Even allowing leeway for bureaucracy, 14 months is an unacceptable amount of time, on top of the previous eight years, for residents to wait for a sliver of progress that would indicate that the state cares about their health.

Theopemptou, during a previous committee meeting revealed that according to an EU study in 2018 – the last available statistics – in Cyprus 600 to 800 people die prematurely each year due to the bad quality of the air they breathe.

“That effectively means that every day two people die prematurely because of bad air quality, which is unacceptable and worrying,” he said. “It’s not just a matter of breathing bad air, people are actually dying…”

The majority of these deaths would obviously be attributable to transportation pollution, but factory emissions are also a contributing factor to premature deaths. The government does not appear to take these types of deaths as seriously as they should. We saw that recently during two massive factory fires where it took a group of academics to point out the government lapses, from failure to take air measurements to lax inspections on old fire-hazard facilities.

There are grand plans in the Recovery and Resilience Plan (RRP) for eco industrial estates and reductions in transportation emissions, and everything will be all put to rights under the green transition but that is still a long way off.

In a landmark 2008 ruling, the Court of Justice of the European Union determined that the citizens of EU member states have a legal right to breathe air that is non-hazardous to their health. Since the government places public health as a top priority, it also needs to act faster on the ‘small stuff’, for instance, relocating a couple of factories.

If it can’t handle this in a reasonable amount of time what hope is there to deliver the far more demanding pledges in the RRP on time.

Related Posts

Coronavirus: Hundreds protest against Covid measures in Limassol

Antigoni Pitta

Coronavirus: No further measures as long as current ones work, minister says

Antigoni Pitta

US recognises Cyprus’ right to develop resources in its EEZ – state department

Source: Cyprus News Agency

First 14 of 50 asylum seekers will fly to Vatican on December 16, Nouris says

Antigoni Pitta

Pope Francis to pray for peace and prosperity in Cyprus (Updated)

Antigoni Pitta

Nicosia rejects Ankara’s Block 5 criticism

Evie Andreou