TEE slams bill as ‘unacceptable, dangerous and anti-constitutional’

After its announcement on September 18 of draft legislation on illegal buildings in Greece, the government found itself beset on all sides, both by official bodies and illegal homeowners demanding to know the exact procedures for legalizing their homes. And while YPEHODE declared that it would be publishing a circular within a few days on the documents that would be needed to supply power and water to illegal buildings, ministry officials acknowledged that such a circular could not be issued on a future law. It was postponed to the time when the bill is passed by Parliament. At the same time, the Technical Chamber of Greece described the draft law as «unacceptable, dangerous, contradictory and finally, unconstitutional,» expressing huge reservations over whether the illegal buildings had adequate seismic protection or even electrical wiring. It also assailed YPEHODE Minister Vasso Papandreou. On Monday, September 22, TEE gave a press conference that suggested a parting of ways with YPEHODE. «The responsibility for illegal buildings belongs wholly to the State. Ms Papandreou, who for two decades now has been in the first ranks of a system of governance and power that produces and reproduces illegal buildings and the politics of patronage, cannot now present herself as pure as snow in the case of illegal buildings,» was the comment made by TEE President G. Alavanos. Pointedly, he added that this was the first bill that did not provide for the demolition of illegal buildings. Unenforceable TEE deems the bill unenforceable, due to its being drawn up in a hasty and improvised fashion, as well as its possible contravention of the Constitution. The president of TEE stressed that the chamber would resort to every legal means, including having recourse to the Council of State, to have the law removed from the statute books. While TEE expressed grave concern over the legalization procedures, it was chiefly worried by the absence of checks (such as static or electrical checks) on buildings before they are provided with power and water. At the same time, the chamber will call on its members not to participate in decisions on the stability of illegal buildings if these are to be purely formal in character, voicing fears that such buildings might collapse in an earthquake. Permits As for the new procedures for issuing building permits, with only spot checks by planning departments, TEE described YPEHODE’s argument that this would speed up procedures as an «absurdity.» The chamber argues that codification of the intricate legal process and computerization of planning departments instead could cut waiting times for permits by 40 percent. Civil engineers insist that studies are examined beforehand, so as to avoid human error but also because «all other construction factors, from building materials to workers, cannot be controlled and cannot be certified.» If the bill is approved as it stands, TEE will set up a special monitoring body of engineering inspectors in order to provide support for independent engineers who, according to Alavanos, «are threatened with removal by the big firms.»