Kifissos River, a 12-km dumping ground

Twelve years ago, a presidential decree was signed to protect the Kifissos River that flows through Athens; four years ago a Kifissos Management and Restoration Agency was established; eight months ago industries along the river were given a final extension to their operating licenses. Yet the river continues to be a repository for garbage, while the land along its banks is still being grabbed and illegally built upon. The thousands of people living along its banks from Metamorphosis in the north right down to the coastal districts have to tolerate a level of stench that has been steadily worsening. Protests have been forthcoming from residents’ groups and environmental organizations, but have met with a wall of indifference and buck-passing from the authorities whose powers often overlap. At the same time, the Kifissos Management and Restoration Agency has remained nothing more than a rubber stamp; it has no staff and no funds and therefore has never actually functioned. «For four years, we have not been able to do anything but wait for state funding,» said the agency’s secretary Dinos Laskaris. «We are an official state agency without an office, staff or money; we simply look on while the river continues to be degraded on a daily basis by dozens of illegal activities. Factories and heavy industry are still there, as are the dozens of illegally built structures, and the river is still being polluted. Much valuable time has been lost. If we had the means to intervene, we would at least have begun some restoration work. Instead, the situation has worsened since the Olympics.»