NEWS

Keratea residents block Lavriou Avenue indefinitely

Residents of Keratea, southeast of Athens have placed concrete blocks on Lavriou Avenue, preventing traffic from accessing part of the road to the port of Lavrio as part of their protest against plans to construct a waste management center in their area.

The rubble was placed on the road, which links Athens with Lavrio, on Monday morning and residents say they will not remove the impromptu roadblock until they are satisfied with the answers they get from the government. The blockade has forced cars heading to and from Lavrio onto small side roads.

In an interview with Sunday?s Kathimerini, Interior Minister Yiannis Ragousis said that the construction of the landfill would go ahead despite the residents? protests.

?We have made it clear that we are open to dialogue with all social groups with regard to any improvements that can be made,? he said. ?But the project must be carried out at all costs, and it we will ensure it is carried out.?

Plans had originally been unveiled in 1998 to construct new waste management centers in Keratea and Grammatiko, northeast of Athens, but the projects have been held up by legal wrangles since 2003.

?If these two projects do not happen, waste management in Attica will collapse and 5 million people will find rubbish piling up outside their doors.?

Keratea residents, however, have been forceful in their resistance to attempts to construct the new landfill. Since mechanical diggers were moved to the site in December, residents have set up a permanent picket near the entrance to the site and have clashed frequently with riot police. They argue the land for the waste center has not been legally acquired, that it is near an archaeological site and that there is a lack of transparency about how the contract for the construction was awarded.

Ragousis, however, argued that the residents have overstepped the mark. ?It is not acceptable for a project that is completely legal, environmentally sound and which is being supported by European Union funding to be obstructed by narrow interests, which have been rejected by the Council of State.?

A final court decision on whether the construction can go ahead is due later this year.