NEWS

MPs approve IT industrial park

Parliament yesterday passed a bill that will allow the creation of Greece’s best stab at a Silicon Valley, on the northern fringes of Athens. The 150-million-euro, privately funded project was backed by ruling conservative New Democracy and PASOK, the socialist main opposition party. But the Communist Party (KKE) and Synaspismos Left Coalition complained that the «Technopolis Technological Park» in the Afidnes area, between Mount Parnitha and Mount Pendeli, will harm the environment and set a dangerous precedent for such abuses. Synaspismos MP Asimina Xirotiri argued that the environmental impact study has twice been rejected by prefectural authorities, while Greece’s highest administrative court, the Council of State, has still to rule on the legality of the project. But Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas insisted that the information technology industrial zone does not include «a single square meter of forestland.» He said the land is privately owned and was previously used for farming. Moreover, its owners have agreed to the compulsory purchase. «This will be the largest investment – totaling 150 million euros – in our country as far as advanced technology is concerned, and it will create 6,000 jobs,» Sioufas said. The minister also argued that any changes in the existing plans for the industrial park will have to be approved by Athens town-planning authorities. Also yesterday, Parliament approved a bill reforming the system according to which public contracts are awarded to construction firms.