Acheloos dead end

The plan to divert Greece’s second-longest river, in what has turned into a highly controversial public works project, has been stopped in its tracks by the country’s highest administrative court, sources told Kathimerini yesterday. The Council of State’s plenary session ruled that the whole project to divert the waters of the Acheloos River in western Greece to the heavily farmed plain of Thessaly should be canceled due to lack of a complete, coordinated plan and the absence of proper assessment of its potential repercussions on Greece’s overall water resources management system. The project, which calls for diversion of 600 million cubic meters of water a year, was first launched in the 1980s but has since become bogged down in legal wranglings. It was set to cost the equivalent in drachmas of 4 billion euros and encountered strong opposition from environmental groups and authorities in western Greece who were concerned at the prospect of losing access to the river. Almost 600 million euros has been spent on the program so far. A large chunk of this went on the construction of two dams at Mesohora and Sykia, which the Public Works Ministry wants to use as hydroelectric power stations. The court’s decision, to be made public very soon, is a blow to Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias, who supported the project and whose constituency is in Thessaly.

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