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Aglandjia ‘on its own’, interior ministry passes the buck on rockslides

cna aglandjia landlside
Photo: CNA

The state has no responsibility for rockslides on private plots, the interior ministry reiterated on Friday, a day after MPs and the Aglandjia mayor plead for financial assistance to clean up debris following such slides near to homes.

The ministry was referring to the issue of rockslides at a residential area in Aglandjia municipality in Nicosia, including the debris from rockslides that occurred after the January 12 earthquake. The issue was discussed at the House interior committee on Thursday, with Aglandjia Mayor Andreas Constantinou accusing authorities of apathy towards their plight and warning of possible future casualties.

In response, the interior ministry said that following a study on the risks, it green-lit €560,000 to clean up debris from state-owned land, while it shifted the responsibility to the municipality regarding private land.

“The municipality was obliged, when considering development applications, to require that private developers carry out geological/geotechnical studies on the plots and to take measures for the protection and stability of both the buildings under development and the neighbouring properties.”

The ministry also cited a letter by the attorney general on a similar matter in Pissouri dated April 23, 2019. The letter said that in reference to the land subsidence in the community “the state does not have any responsibility or obligation to the owners of private homes affected by the phenomenon of subsidence or landslide in the community.”

“Therefore, is not obligated to undertake the repair or reconstruction of the houses in question or to pay any compensation for the damage caused, whether the cause is the inadequacy of the structural designs, or an action of nature, or a combination thereof.”

It added that the ministry “did not ignore the problems” of the municipality but granted €20,000 aid to carry out a study for the restoration of the two halls of the municipality which were damaged.

“We therefore call on the Mayor and the City Council of Aglandjia, before making such statements in public, to make sure that their own previous responsibilities have been assumed.”

According to the mayor, a 2017 study found that restoration works – both on state and private lands – would cost €1.82 million.

He warned that the situation remains dangerous. “Every day we wake up and make the sign of the cross, just thinking when the next landslide might happen,” Constantinou said.

Following the earthquake of January 12, the municipality asked the ministry for help in restoring private residential areas. The ministry replied that the collapse of the rock face was unrelated to the earthquake, as it took place on the day after the tremor.

The municipality was therefore not eligible for financial assistance and had to tap into own funds for the debris clearance works.

After the session, committee chair Aristos Damianou (Akel) called on the government to change its policy and release the necessary funds.

“Human life is not measured by whether the land is private or state-owned,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Geological Survey Department has completed a study which will be published soon and will alert the public as to the hazardous areas in the capital and also the potential extra costs should they want to build a house.

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