Expert calls for villages to be moved due to landslides

Expert calls for villages to be moved due to landslides

The state should consider moving certain mountain settlements to a different location instead of investing in expensive anti-erosion works, says Efthymis Lekkas, professor of dynamic tectonic applied geology at Athens University and head of the Organization of Earthquake Planning and Protection.

The proposal comes after a team of professors and researchers from the university’s Geology Department completed a survey of the areas facing the greatest risk after the damage caused by Cyclone Ianos in September 2020.

Lekkas argues that the continuous investment in expensive anti-erosion projects does not make sense in areas where the soil is too weak. He said a total of 260 sites have been identified in the prefecture of Karditsa alone, where various landslides are in progress.

“I think the relocation of some settlements such as Agia Marina and Ktimeni should be seriously considered, and others such as Karitsa should be developed in another layout. I know it is a very difficult issue because it has a social aspect – no one wants to leave their home. But it doesn’t make sense to build expensive projects which will be destroyed in a few years,” the professor says, adding that there is a history of landslides in the mountains of Karditsa, especially in Argithea and Tavropos.

"Dozens of studies have been conducted since the 1960's to deal with the phenomenon,” he explains. “However, after Ianos, the situation in the area is unprecedented: the landslides occurred simultaneously with the heavy rains, resulting in the well-known flood wave that caused damages to the city of Karditsa and the surrounding areas. The movement of the lands is huge – in some areas of Tavropos and Argithea, the landscape has changed.”

The landslides have not stopped in the area because a large amount of water has seeped into the ground, activating old landslides, along with new ones, which sweep away villages, bridges and infrastructure with every new rainfall, Lekkas says.

He also called for a systematic recording and study of the phenomenon in its entirety and not individually by location. “This is the only way to create the appropriate scientific and technical background for long-term protection and development, taking into account the new framework formed by the climate crisis."

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