Tempers flare over tramline

Riot police clashed yesterday with local residents in the coastal Athens suburb of Palaio Faliron, who are trying to stop construction of a planned tramline through the area that they say will harm the environment. There were no injuries, but several protesters were briefly detained at the local police station. Palaio Faliron residents, led by newly elected Mayor Dionysis Hadjidakis, who has not yet officially assumed his duties, hold that preparatory work for the tramline will require the cutting of several trees along the central partition on coastal Posidonos Avenue. They say that this is illegal, as the environmental study on which approval was granted for the Palaio Faliron section of the tramline – which is scheduled to link the city center with the southern, coastal suburbs – explicitly stated that the trees in question would not be touched. Yesterday Hadjidakis appealed to Piraeus forestry authorities to save the trees. Last week, the Council of State rejected a suit by Palaio Faliron residents against the project. The 346-million-euro tram network is due for completion in April 2004.

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