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Vouno picnic site sealed off over ‘unauthorised’ building (Updated)

Municipal police seal off the Tashkent nature park
Municipal police seal off the Tashkent nature park

The picnic site in the village of Vouno was sealed off by the Dikomo municipality on Friday in an ongoing spat regarding an “unauthorised” building on the site.

According to Dikmen mayor Yuksel Celebi, the site was sealed as “permits have not been issued due to the violation of the contract with the Forestry department and the illegal construction of many unlicensed structures”.

These, according to Celebi, include unlicenced restaurants and cafes.

In addition, he said, the picnic site’s operator Tashkent nature park “has been demanding a fee from visitors”, which violates the agreement set out for the area’s use.

He added that the “occasionally illegal Selvi restaurant” was opened to the public without permission.

According to Celebi, an agreement was reached in May 2023 whereby Tashkent nature park agreed “to not use the illegal structures in the area”, and that this agreement has not been upheld.

He also claims that the road between the picnic site and Buffavento castle is “blocked to traffic arbitrarily and at times desired by the operator”, and that this has caused complaints from the public.

He alleges that Tashkent nature park organised wedding and circumcision parties in the area and that these parties are the reasons for the road closures.

Celebi clarified that only the picnic area had been sealed off, and that the rest of the Tashkent nature park “continues its activities without permission and with the aid and donations it collects”.

Earlier, Tashkent nature park director Kemal Basat released a strongly worded statement on social media.

Basat claimed he had received permission from the north’s forestry department before the pandemic to build the buildings, saying “every nail I have hammered in the picnic area belongs to the forestry department and I have never claimed any ownership over them”.

He said he has had an ongoing problem with the Dikomo municipality “for a while” over the issue, and that the north’s forestry department had attempted to mediate an agreed settlement.

“I accepted the solution offered by the forestry department a long time ago, but the mayor did not accept it. It seems that the solution requested by the mayor is not technically possible”, he said.

He added that the municipality had not renewed the picnic site’s operation licence this year, and that as a result, refuse collections from the site had ceased six months ago.

Celebi disputes this, saying Basat had told him “I will throw my own rubbish away myself, don’t bring me bin lorries”.

Basat said the Tashkent nature park itself had commenced its own refuse collection, taking waste to the refuse management facility in the village of Koutsoventis.

However, after the facility caught fire in July, it stopped accepting waste from the Tashkent park, and rubbish began to pile up.

Basat added that “without any communication, explanation, or deadline”, the municipality closed the picnic site, and claimed the municipality had “set its sights” on taking ownership of it.

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