2004 greenery project ‘at risk from delays’

A government program to plant millions of trees, bushes and assorted greenery to prettify Athens for the 2004 Olympics is in considerable danger as time for its implementation is running out, horticulturists warned yesterday. Further delays could lead to last-minute solutions such as importing large quantities of foreign plants that may not be compatible with the local climate and the Attic landscape, the rector of the Athens Agricultural University, Andreas Karamanos, told a conference on «Olympic projects and greenery.» In October the Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Ministry signed an agreement with the Athens 2004 organizing committee according to which 4,000 Athenian acres will be planted with about 100 million plants before the Games, at a cost of 124 billion drachmas (364 million euros). But Karamanos stressed that such a project requires careful planning, as it involves enormous quantities of plants that must be compatible with local water reserves and adaptable to the Attic climate.He charged that not a single study has been prepared on the project so far. ELGA expects to pay some 54 million euros (18.4 billion drachmas) to settle insurance claims for this month’s destruction, which took place during the coldest December in 40 years, with the second highest rate of snowfall after December 1991.

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