NEWS

Ministry zooms in on properties on burned land

After months of monitoring swaths of forestland burned in wildfires in the summer of 2009, Environment Ministry inspectors say they have located four illegally erected structures in Marathon and Grammatiko and have set the wheels in motion for their demolition.

The ministry started monitoring the scorched area in the fall of 2009 with the help of Ktimatologio SA, a company set up to oversee the creation of Greece’s first land register. The burned parts were photographed by satellite, then aerial photographs were taken every month and compared to the original shots.

The four properties located comprise a prefabricated building and a concrete property partially built underground near the Grammatiko cemetery. The other two suspicious properties in Marathon are a prefabricated wooden house and a metal storage shed erected on a concrete base.

The demolition of these structures is not an entirely straightforward affair. First of all, the owners have appealed. «We are waiting for the appeals procedure to finish and then we will go ahead with the demolition,» Margarita Karavassili, a senior official at the Environment Ministry’s inspectorate, told Kathimerini.

Karavassili said regional authorities were responsible for razing illegal properties in Attica but added that the ministry would seek a firm to undertake the demolitions if the local authorities fail to act. This is also not easy, it seems.

«In the past we asked companies to approach us so we could create a catalog of which firms do demolitions and no one came forward,» Karavassili said. «Maybe they are the same firms that built the illegal properties,» she added.

The long-term goal appears to be the creation of state teams to raze illegal properties. Karavassili said the ministry is drafting legislation to bolster an existing demolition agency which is not yet staffed.