Greece’s leftist-led government said on Friday that it was moving ahead with plans to knock down scores of illegal buildings in the wider Athens region.
After a meeting between Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Environment Minister Giorgos Stathakis it was announced that regional authorities will demolish 61 illegal structures, including 27 illegal properties in Mandra (an industrial town west of Athens which was hit by deadly flash floods last November), 21 fences blocking beach access in the areas of Saronikos, Anavyssos and Porto Rafti in eastern Attica, and 13 illegal homes in areas that have been earmarked for reforestation in Kapandriti, Lavrio and Pendeli.
The Greek government has been severely criticized for blaming the high death toll following the July 23 wildfires in eastern Attica on rampant illegal construction in the stricken areas.
Its drive against illegal buildings immediately after the deadly fires has been criticized as poorly timed and is seen as an attempt to deflect criticism regarding political mistakes and omissions that are believed to have exacerbated the tragedy.
In a statement Friday, a number of Greek environmental organizations including Greenpeace and WWF expressed their reservations about the government’s motives behind the campaign.